After an unusually quiet off field close season for fans of Salford Devils, the opening game in just a couple of weeks time, at home to reigning champions Wigan Warriors, will mark the start of owner Dr Marwan Koukash taking more of a back seat role as former captain Ian Blease takes the helm as CEO of the club. Andrew Riley spoke to him, and a few of the players at the clubs media launch day.
Quays started by asking Marwan about the demise of the Bradford Bulls, and the rumours that the Devils owner was one of the RFL’s four bidders.
“It wasn’t me, but my wife Mandy who was interested in the club. Bradford as a name is needed in the sport. She told the RFL that she would be interested, but only if the other bidders didnt have a suitable owner.
The RFL did well to get (Former New Zealand Rugby League chairman) Andrew Chalmers and ex-Wigan coach Graham Lowe in to Bradford. I wish them all the best. Andrew was a director here at Salford until a few weeks ago, but I want to make it clear, I have nothing to do with the new Bradford club.” he told Quays.
On the subject of taking a back seat, the usually outspoken owner is happy to just be sat back and letting both Ian Blease and Ian Watson get on with the off field and on field running of the club.
“I just want to get back to enjoying my rugby league.” he told us.
“All the stress is someone else’s, I just sign the cheques!”
We also spoke to Welsh international Captain Craig Kopczak on film about the season ahead.
This season the club captain will be half back Michael Dobson, taking over from Tommy Lee who departed at the end of last season for St. Helens
“Its a huge honour to captain the club, I had to do it a fair bit last year, when Tommy got injured, but to get the armband as it were is a big honour for me as a player.
As a half, it’s my job to lead the boys about the pitch, and run the game, but to do it as captain just adds to the pressure a bit.”
With two years left on his Salford contract, Michael is still looking to play for as long as possible, but at 30, he knows its a tough ask to play at the top level as he has for so long, having had stints at Wigan, Catalan Dragons and Hull KR since his move to Super League from Canberra Raiders in 2006.
One thing he is excited about are the new signings at the club.
“They’re all settling in good. We’ve Lama (Tasi) back with a point to prove, and Lee Mossop, they’ll give us some grunt up front.
Chris Welham will be a good addition, as will Chris Brinning at hooker. He’s still only young, but he’s got great potential.” he told us.
With the season fast approaching, I also asked Ian Blease about season ticket sales.
“We’re at about 1800 so far.” he said
“With the signing of Todd Carney, I hope that might get a few more fans to commit to the club, but we’re way ahead of where we’ve been for a number of years.”
The club also used the day to launch their 2017 away kit, in a film staring fans of the club, as well as fan favourite Junior Sa’u.