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Salford Red Devils may be forced to ‘stand players down’ later in the season due to rules

Paul Rowley Marc Sneyd

Salford Red Devils are the club of the moment in Super League. With the Red Devils currently sitting in fifth place and having completed a first league double over St Helens in 60 years at the weekend, Salford are celebrated across the sport. 

However, there may be storm clouds beginning to gather on the horizon. Their success has drawn admiring glances, with Leeds Rhinos linked with a move for head coach, Paul Rowley, and already poaching former Managing Director, Ian Blease, and star players, Andy Ackers and Brodie Croft.

Salford fans will be desperate to keep hold of Rowley, given the success he has achieved under significant financial constraint. But, even if Rowley remains at the club, he faces difficult decisions in the coming weeks to ensure he has his best players available for the big games at the end of the season.

Salford will have to manage the RFL’s new rules carefully to keep their best side available for their crunch fixtures.

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Salford Red Devils may have to “stand players down”

Paul Rowley Salford Red Devils

Credit: Imago Images

Under new rules introduced by the RFL in the close season, players at all levels are subject to playing time limits, in an attempt to reduce the caused by frequently occurring injuries to the head. As a result, forwards over the age of 22 are limited to 2,000 minutes of rugby, or 25 full game equivalents. Backs are limited to 2,400 minutes, or 30 full game equivalents.

As a result, for a club like Salford who have a smaller squad, competing on all fronts means players have a higher chance of hitting those playing time limits, with less scope for rest and rotation throughout the season. Rowley discussed the very real possibility that Salford may have to rest players on Sky Sports’ The Bench podcast. Rowley said:

“What I will say is we’ve got a very durable set of players, thankfully, and touch wood because I think we’re the team with the most players that have played every single game so far in Super League.

“I’m sure we’ve got about six players in our team which is remarkable however I do fear for the back end of the season with the head injury thing where you can only play so many minutes.”

Marc Sneyd, Tim Lafai and Nene Macdonald all at risk of missing games

Jon Wilkin Leeds Rhinos

Credit: Imago Images

Rowley admitted that Salford may have to consider voluntarily standing down players who run the risk of breaching the RFL limits if Salford were to achieve their aim and reach the playoffs this season. He explained:

“It’s set to be quite interesting if we did get to where we want to be.

“The facts would remain that the ever-present players we have would have got to the limit.”

Jon Wilkin, appearing along side Rowley, asked whether standing down players voluntarily was something he had considered:

“Yeah, that’s crazy. You’ll have to voluntarily stand players down and with a small squad as well. Are you starting to think about that now?”

Rowley confirmed that discussions had taken place:

“Well, it’s already in there. I’ve just brought it up. We’re that team that is in an 800-metre race and we’re sprinting right from the beginning so we just go as far as we can for as long as we can. That’s it.

Some of Salford’s most important names may be forced to sit out games towards the end of the season, including Marc Snedy, Tim Lafai and Nene Macdonald. Rowley said:

“I’m pretty sure Sneydy, Nene, Tim Lafai. There’ll be a lot who’ve missed one, and one only. So the glass will be filling definitely.”

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