By Ethan Wade O’Gorman
Fifty one years is a long time to wait for silverware. However Salford are just 80 minutes away from making a dream come true.
No one expected the Red Devils to get to Wembley this season.
The loss of George Griffin and Jackson Hastings left a massive hole in the clubs squad.
But despite that, Ian Watson has once again delivered the goods.
The Red Devils have been a success story in the past few seasons going from near relegation to two major finals in two seasons in the form of the Super League grand final last year to the Challenge Cup final this year.
Leeds Rhinos will be playing in their 26th Challenge Cup final and are aiming to lift the prestigious piece of silverware for the 14th time.
Richard Agar’s team head into the clash on the back of a 32-6 loss against the Warrington Wolves who Salford defeated in the semi finals of Cup.
The Rhinos fielded a young squad against the Wolves in light of facing the Red Devils this weekend.
Salford head coach Ian Watson has been praised for his work at the AJ Bell Stadium multiple times and Red Devils supporters trust chairman Pete Brady believes the Red Devils are punching above their weight.
“Having Watson as coach has been every bit as important as some of the players we have signed since he became our full time coach in 2016,” Brady told UClan Live.
“He has managed to bring the best out of every player and his tactical plays make us a very difficult team to play against.
“For a community club with no wealthy benefactor bank rolling the club we have consistently ‘punched above our weight’ and we’re as good as any team in the super league on our day”
Covid-19 has once again had a significant impact on rugby league this week with Salford confirming that fullback Dan Sarginson and Jack Ormondroyd have tested positive and will be missing for the Red Devils trip to Wembley.
Wigan’s clash with Catalans Dragons was postponed due to multiple cases of the virus amongst players and staff with the Warriors clash against Salford next Friday still not confirmed as going ahead.
When it comes to team news Jack Walker, Adam Cuthbertson, Cameron Smith and Tom Holroyd have all been named in the Leeds Rhinos lineup despite playing against Warrington mid week.
Bodine Thompson is unavailable having played for the Toronto Wolfpack earlier in the Challenge Cup when he played against Huddersfield.
Despite having Dan Sarginson missing, the Red Devils will have Niall Evalds available who returns to the squad after a period out with injury. He will most likely take up the fullback role.
Salford 21-man squad: Evalds, Welham, Inu, Lolohea, Brown, Mossop, Lussick, Dudson, Lannon, Pauli, McCarthy, Ikahihifo, Burke, Yates, Atkin, Flanagan, Greenwood, Williams, Kear, Roberts, Watkins.
Leeds 21-man squad: Walker, T.Briscoe, Hurrell, Handley, Lui, Gale, Seumanufagai, Leeming, Prior, Mellor, Martin, Dwyer, L.Sutcliffe, Myler, Cuthbertson, Oledzki, Smith, L.Briscoe, Donaldson, A.Sutcliffe, Holroyd.