Radford wary of Salford stars
Hull FC coach Lee Radford has put his team on red alert over Salford Red Devils’ trio of new signings who are all set to make their home debuts against his side at the AJ Bell Stadium tomorrow.
The main attraction will be New Zealand Test full-back Kevin Locke, who is expected to overcome a groin injury to make his first appearance in Greater Manchester since the Kiwis' World Cup final defeat by Australia at Old Trafford in November.
The Red Devils' support cast includes Mason Caton-Brown, the club's exciting recruit from London Broncos, and the much-travelled Josh Griffin as Iestyn Harris' men seek to keep alive their slender First Utility Super League play-off hopes.
Locke and Caton-Brown both made try-scoring and eye-catching debuts in Salford's shock 36-10 win at Huddersfield Giants last Saturday and have been earmarked by Radford as the chief danger men.
"They have both slotted in there nicely and will be a real threat in their back field," he said.
"Their arrival, as well as that of Josh Griffin, has really given them a lift and they look to have bonded as a team.
"They are difficult to defend against and we are going to have to be at our best because they have quality players across the field."
Locke accepted the offer of a lucrative contract from Salford owner Marwan Koukash after losing his place at New Zealand Warriors to England full-back Sam Tomkins, and coach Harris believes the Red Devils fans will be in a for treat.
"Not many players in world rugby have got the ability to be at top speed and be in control of what you're doing with the ball and he showed that in his first day at training and he showed it in the game he played last week," Harris said.
That debut came just four days after he stepped off a plane and Harris is not expecting to see Locke at his best until he regains his match fitness after describing him as "heavy".
"I had a good laugh at that," Locke said. "Even my family had a good laugh at that. I don't take things like that to heart. I am a little bit over-weight, I hadn't played in four or five weeks."
Salford are just two points behind the Black and Whites, who dropped to 11th place after Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ win over Widnes Vikings yesterday, and tomorrow's game is being seen as a play-off eliminator.
"Everybody in and around us will be looking to make that eight," Radford said. "Hull KR, Wakefield and also Salford are going to be vying for that eighth spot and, with Widnes losing on Thursday, we are all pushing for the same goal now.
"It should be an exciting finish to the year and to get where we want to be we will need to smarten up beginning with this match."
In tomorrow's other game, Wigan Warriors will be aiming to become only the second visiting team to win at the Stade Gilbert Brutus this season when they take on Catalan Dragons.
The French club have won all eight league and cup games in Perpignan since losing at home to Leeds Rhinos in February but Warriors coach Shaun Wane is pleased with his side's preparations.
"We look at away trips positively and extend them as all the players enjoy each other's company," Wane said.
"We went to London for a few days before the game against the Broncos last week and we went to Barcelona on Thursday and are training Friday so hopefully we are in a good frame of mind to play on Saturday.
"The weather conditions are what they are. Even if it is red hot, I expect the players to empty the tank for 80 minutes to do what they need to get us the two points."