Last season a new-look Salford Red Devils side were tipped by many to take Super League by storm after heavy investment from enigmatic owner Dr Marwan Koukash.
Despite securing the services of seasoned internationals results did not always match expectation and the club finished an underwhelming 10th in the league, with head coach Brian Noble being replaced in April.
Salford halfback and England star Rangi Chase believes his club can put the disappointments of last season behind them as they strive for success in the new ultra-competitive Super League format.
He said: “You’ve got to do well this year or you put yourself in a difficult situation.
“We all need to learn from what happened, us as players, us as management, and probably him (Koukash) as well.
“He’s new, we are all new as a team and we all need to learn from what happened and kick on, make sure we don’t make the same mistakes as last year.
“But those things take care of themselves if you are doing the right things in training and on the field and we shouldn’t have to worry about it.”
Koukash has courted controversy on social media in the past by rallying against the sport’s administrators who he believes are stifling investment with an enforced salary cap on player wages.
The Red Devils cannot afford another poor start with the threat of relegation returned to the league after five years, finishing 10th this campaign would mean a battle for survival in the post-season rather than a shot at the play-offs.
Regardless of the financial constraints, Salford have again recruited star players, with Kiwi international Kevin Locke from the New Zealand Warriors in the NRL coming in at fullback.
New Zealand-born Chase reflected on the signing of his compatriot, saying: “Kevin is an international and the NRL guys are the best in the world so when they come over they’re certainly going to improve the competition.
“We’ve all been together pretty much since the end of October, preseason has been long and hard but also good and enjoyable. The start is just around the corner now so it’s exciting.”
The Salford stand-off also started in the Australian NRL with St George Illawara Dragons and believes there is a lot the English game could gain from the Southern hemisphere league.
“The NRL is the best competition in the world there’s no doubt about that. In terms of intensity and quality the Super League probably lacks if you’re going to be honest.
“The aim for us and our competition is to keep growing and close that gap. I think it’s possible if the competition is run right and we get the right calibre of players.”
The first test of the Red Devil’s Super League play-off credentials is later today at last year’s semi-finalists Warrington who will also be looking for the perfect start.
Although Chase was wary about promising glory this year there seems to be a natural confidence around the Salford camp that shone through.
So maybe fans can start believing that this is their year?
“I’m not going to predict where we’ll finish I’ve learnt that lesson from last year. If we work hard keep our heads down then we should be up near the top, in the top eight at least.”
Main image courtesy of Super League TV via YouTube, with thanks.