While typhoon season is making waves in Japan for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, Salford Red Devils are creating a different kind of storm on their way to this year’s Super League Grand Final.
For the first time in history, two scheduled matches of this year’s World Cup have been canceled. One game that is certain to go ahead this weekend, however, is the Super League Grand Final.
Old Trafford is set to host one of the most fascinating Grand Finals in recent memory this Saturday. Super League’s most dominant side this season, St.Helens will compete in a record-breaking 11th Grand Final. Their opponents in Saturday’s game will be perhaps the greatest underdogs in Super League history, Salford Red Devils.
One man who will compete for Salford Red Devils this Saturday is Irish international Tyrone McCarthy. McCarthy is one of Salford’s most experienced players. This Saturday’s game will be McCarthy’s first-ever Super League Grand Final, however, he has previous big-game experience.
McCarthy captained Hull KR in the Challenge Cup final in 2015. Hull KR were underdogs vs Leeds Rhinos on that day. They ultimately lost the game 50-0, the biggest score margin in Challenge Cup final history. The fairytale didn’t have a happy ending for McCarthy on that day. He will hope to experience a different outcome this Saturday.
McCarthy took charge of his first game as head coach of the University of Salford’s rugby league team earlier this week. He earned a 38-16 win in midweek. He will hope that his coaching debut sets a trend of winning for the week ahead.
Just a year ago, Salford were fighting to avoid relegation to the Championship. A year later, they have the opportunity to become just the fifth team in history to become Super League champions.
While this clearly presents Salford as underdogs, it also shows that Salford’s run to the final hasn’t been a fluke. Only four teams have ever won this competition. It is not an easy task, nor is it a competition that’s friendly to smaller teams. Salford have earned their place in the Grand Final thanks to their quality and consistency over the season.
Salford’s Director of Rugby Ian Blease made Salford’s intentions clear earlier this week. Blease stated that Salford are “not coming to make up the numbers.”
Salford head coach, Ian Watson made similar statements to Blease after his side’s preliminary final victory. Watson confirmed that reaching the final was his proudest moment when asked. However, the coach was quick to make it clear that his side’s job was not done.
The mentality of all involved with Salford Red Devils is consistent from the top down regarding this opportunity. They are not coming to Old Trafford for a day out. They intend to overlook the media portrayals of their ‘fairytale’ journey to the final, and win Saturday’s final.
St.Helens have their own added motivation to win Saturday’s game. The Grand Final will be head coach Justin Holbrook’s last game in charge. His players are determined to give him an appropriate send-off.
St.Helens prop Alex Walmsley was quick to play down Salford’s underdog status earlier this week. Walmsley stated that Salford have been “disrespected by the media” in the build-up to this game. Walmsley went on to recognise that Salford have got real quality in their team.
While Salford appear to be ready to prove they belong in Saturday’s game versus St.Helens, the favourites are similarly ready to compete in a final and aren’t expecting a walk in the park this weekend.
The Super League Grand Final will commence tomorrow, Saturday, October 12th at 6 PM IST. Coverage of the match will begin at 5 PM on Sky Sports Main Event.