Last Updated: 08/08/20 8:33am
Round 8 of the Super League season continues with a triple-header at Headingley on Sunday and it all gets underway with Salford Red Devils taking on Hull FC.
Last year’s surprise Grand Finalists had endured a mixed campaign up to the point the 2020 season was suspended, but have some new additions aiming to make an impact.
Hull, meanwhile, see Andy Last take charge for his first match as interim head coach and we look at the team news and some talking points here…
Salford Red Devils vs Hull FC
August 9, 2020, 12:55pm
State of play
Salford Red Devils
Super League record so far: P6 W1 D0 L5
Key stats: The Red Devils were one of the teams who were affected negatively by Toronto Wolfpack’s record being expunged, seeing one of their two wins so far this season being chalked off.
Goal-kicking three-quarter Krisnan Inu is 11 points away from reaching the 1,000 mark for his career at club and international level.
Super League record so far: W3 D0 L4.
Key stats: Hull come into this match having lost four of their last five matches in Super League. Andy Last, the youngest head coach in Super League at 39, will be eager to end that run.
Jamie Shaul needs just two more tries to reach 100 for his career. Meanwhile, Carlos Tuimavave could make his 100th Super League appearance for Hull on Sunday.
Super League head-to-head record: Salford Red Devils W11 Hull FC W35.
Escare in line for Red Devils bow
Salford aim to pick up where they left off pre-lockdown, having gone into the break on the back of an eye-catching 18-14 win over high-flying Wigan Warriors.
They will, however, be without experienced stand-off Kevin Brown, recent signing Andy Ackers and back row Oliver Roberts due to the trio suffering injuries.
That could open the door for Morgan Escare to make his Red Devils debut as a trialist, having been training with the club after agreeing a three-year contract from next year onwards.
“I want to play this year because it’s a long time without playing,” Escare told Red Devils TV. “It’s next year or now for me.
“All the boys want to play and I’m very excited.”
Watson is keen to get the French international, who was released by Wigan earlier this year, signed up on a contract for the rest of this season as well.
“Hopefully we can keep him long-term this year as we’ve just started a month’s solid work to get him where we need to get him,” Watson said.
“Morgan’s strengths are pretty obvious in terms of speed, [and] we’ve been doing some work with him defensively.”
Ma’u benefits from break
One player who cannot wait to get back into action for Hull FC is the man who goes by the nickname ‘The Tongan Terminator’, Manu Ma’u.
The former Parramatta Eels back row was limited to just three appearances before lockdown, suffering from injury and feeling the effects of a long 2019 season in both the NRL and on the international stage.
However, Ma’u is raring to go after recuperating fully during the enforced break in the Super League season and is eager to make an impact in a Hull shirt.
“I think this break came at a right time for me,” Ma’u said. “I played a lot of international footy at the back end of last season and didn’t get much rest before I came over.
“I’m looking forward to this week’s game and I’m keen to get back on that field, and show everyone what I’m capable of.”
Despite only making a handful of appearance, Ma’u believes what he has experienced of Super League so far means he will be well-suited to the style of play on these shores compared to Australia.
“It’s different and it is a more free-flowing game,” Ma’u said. “With the NRL, it’s more direct and getting to certain points.
“It’s more of a middles game, but here in Super League you get to play footy a bit more, throw the ball around a bit more and I think it suits me more. I just need to get on the field.”
What they say about each other
“With Andy Last taking over from Lee Radford, it’s going to be interesting to see if he tries to change the structure or even the make-up of the team.
“There is a little bit of an unknown there, but generally you know the make-up of the squad as well. We know people like Josh Jones really well. There will be certain things that won’t change, but there will be new things a new coach will want to bring into an organisation.”
– Salford Red Devils head coach Ian Watson on Hull FC
“They’ll pose a really dangerous threat. Salford didn’t get off to the best of starts before lockdown, had a really good performance against Wigan, which we’ve looked at and they showed what they’re capable of.
“Ian Watson has done an outstanding job in terms of his recruitment and what they did last year, and I’m sure they’ll be fully refreshed and looking to bring some good performances together. I think the new rule changes could suit the way they go. They like to play on the front foot and play fast.”
– Hull FC interim head coach Andy Last on Salford Red Devils