Veivers targets top-eight spot
Salford City Reds caretaker coach Phil Veivers will take charge of the Reds for the final time at Hull FC tomorrow aiming to make the most of a chance to hand over a top-eight team to new boss Matt Parish.
The former St Helens full-back stepped into the breach in April when both head coach Shaun McRae and his fellow assistant Malcolm Alker went on sick leave and has guided the Reds to six wins from 11 Super League matches.
More recently, a run of four wins from their last five fixtures has taken Salford to the brink of the play-offs and they can leapfrog Hull into eighth spot with victory at the KC Stadium.
“We’ve spoken about what we want to achieve tomorrow and where we want to be by the time the 80 minutes are up,” said Veivers.
“The ball is in the players’ court now. It’s how they perform. They’ve trained pretty good this week.”
Veivers, 47, was an unsuccessful candidate for the coaching vacancy but will stay on to assist the 42-year-old Parish, who is preparing to fly to England after completing his commitments as assistant to New South Wales boss Ricky Stuart for the Australian State of Origin Series.
Parish, who has no club ties, had hoped to arrive in time for tomorrow’s match but is now expected at the Willows early next week to take up his two-and-a-half-year contract.
“He’s got a couple of problems with his flight but I think he’ll be here at the beginning of next week, ready for the start of training,” said Veivers, who says he has had little contact from his new boss.
“He’s been pretty busy with his State of Origin work. He phoned me when he got the job and I think I’ve had one call since. No doubt when he gets here, we’ll sit down and talk a little bit more.
“He’s said he wants me hanging around the joint.
“I’ve just got on with the job that was given me really. It’s gone pretty good - you can see from when I took over against Bradford Bulls to where we are now.
“Slight changes have been made and different parts of our game have got better and stronger. The players have bought into what I wanted and they’ve gone out and performed.”
Hull’s three-match winning run came to a halt at St Helens last Friday but they won 32-16 at the Willows in May and Veivers is expecting a difficult test at the KC Stadium.
“They’re very strong at the moment,” he said. “They’ve got plenty of threat all over the park, especially on their left side with [Tom] Briscoe and [Kirk] Yeaman and [Richard] Horne and [Willie] Manu.
“They have a decent strike force and a big set of forwards so we will have to be on our mettle.”
In tomorrow’s other game, Warrington Wolves will need to overcome their bogey team if they are to recapture top spot - at least for 24 hours.
Wigan Warriors took over at the top with victory over Castleford Tigers in their game in hand last night and they will be expected to make it five wins in a row when they go to lowly Harlequins RL on Saturday.
However, the Wolves can make virtually certain of a top-two finish when they take on Huddersfield Giants at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, where victory would put them four points clear of their third-placed opponents with a vastly superior points difference.
The Giants have lost four of their last five away matches to undermine their early-season promise but are aiming for a fourth successive win over Warrington.
They knocked the Wolves out of the play-offs at the Halliwell Jones Stadium at the end of last season and have won both league fixtures this year, in Cardiff and at the Galpharm Stadium.
Warrington’s former Huddersfield coach Tony Smith said: “The Giants have got the wood on us in the last three games, including the last game that we played last year which is fresh in our minds as well.
“We’ve had some terrific scraps with them in recent years but they are a bit of a bogey team for us at the moment. We know that you’ve got to play with some form and play well to beat the Giants.
“They’re a good rugby league team. They are hard working and they are big with some skilful backs as well so they will be a handful as they’ve proven to most teams this year.”