Chase ready to spearhead Devils charge
The waiting game is almost over for Rangi Chase as he prepares to lead the "Devilution" on behalf of Salford Red Devils’ charismatic owner Marwan Koukash.
It is five months since the 2011 Man of Steel was unveiled by the good doctor as the biggest of 12 new signings for his renamed Red Devils and, like the racehorse named after him, he is chomping at the bit for Sunday's opening game against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
"The season's nearly here, it's only round the corner," Chase said. "I can't wait to get our first proper game in."
The eyes of the rugby league world will be on the AJ Bell Stadium as the team hand-picked by Koukash and coach Brian Noble set out on a road the one-time Palestinian refugee hopes will lead to neighbouring Old Trafford.
To go from wooden spoonists to Grand Finalists in 12 months would represent one of the biggest transformations ever witnessed in British sport but Koukash's ambition knows no bounds and he expects his expensively-assembled team to deliver sooner rather than later.
"You blokes are probably putting pressure on us," insisted Chase, who has little time for the media. "He says what he feels, there is no beating around the bush with Marwan.
"We know we've got a big task as players but we know we're capable.
"We haven't really spoken about our targets but, if we weren't aiming for the top, then we shouldn't be here.
"We've got a side that's capable of doing it. I think as individuals you've got to aim to win.
"That's what I've come here for, to win games, and I'm sure every one of my team-mates think the same. We've just got to do it.
"As for top spot, it's a big ask for anyone to be consistently good every week but that's the challenge and, if you look at our team, we're capable."
Koukash has booked the Red Devils parachute team to provide some of the pre-match entertainment and, acutely aware of the sceptics, is hoping his players can seize the chance to snare those watching out of curiosity.
Chase is refusing to allow the external forces to ramp up the pressure on the Red Devils to perform from the off.
"I'm not bothered about winning people over," he said. "It's how we feel as a group.
"We know we've got the capabilities to win games. We've just got to transfer what we are doing on the paddock into a game situation.
"What people think outside this group doesn't matter. There will be people who write us off, wanting us to lose for a lot of reasons."
Unlike at his previous club Castleford Tigers, where he was very much the large fish in a small pond, Chase will not be the only man under the spotlight at Barton.
Most eyes will be on his half-back partnership with Australian Tim Smith, who turned Wakefield into a play-off team largely on the back of his clever kicking game and sleight of hand.
The organisational skills of Smith, allied to the off-the-cuff magic of Chase looks to set to excite the crowds at the AJ Bell Stadium, although the England half-back with the maverick touch does not quite see it that way.
"That's what the media keep portraying me as," he said. "The truth is I'm both. I can organise; I can play; I can do whatever; I can adapt.
"I'm really excited to be playing with Tim; he's a smart player. He's got a different sort of game and I think we will complement each other.
"He's going to take a lot of pressure off me and vice versa. It should work out well."