Salford Red Devils routinely defy the odds to be successful.
Since avoiding relegation in 2018, they have played in a Grand Final, a Challenge Cup Final and came very close to a second Grand Final in 2022.
But how do they manage this on a limited budget and how do they manage to sign players like Jackson Hastings, Brodie Croft and Tim Lafai.
Ian Blease has explained all in an interview with Roar as the publication likened a “team of misfits” to the famous book / film, Moneyball.
“If you look at our list going back to 2018, there’s probably 15 to 20 players where they all had an individual reason why they weren’t making it,” he said to Roar.
“Either cast aside by their clubs, problems off the field, not wanted, fell out with someone – a whole host of reasons.
“But we do due diligence on their background. Phil Clarke called us ‘the team of misfits’ when we got to the Grand Final, which some of our fans took exception to, but without disrespecting the team, he was probably right. Three-quarters of them were players that other clubs didn’t want.”
Honesty is also important, they have to be clear that they won’t be joining a club like Wigan Warriors or Warrington Wolves:
“I think we’ve built a pretty solid platform that assesses players that will fit into our culture and club. When I chat to players, I always tell them what a small but hard-working club we are.
“We muck in, we help and it’s not always for everybody. I tell them: if they think they’re coming to Wigan, Saints or Warrington, they’re not.”
Meanwhile, his experience as an ex-agent is key:
“Being an ex-agent, I know how both sides work,” he said. “I don’t get everyone I want but if I set a target, I back myself to give the player what they want contractually and then sell the team.
“It’s good to have that overview. Being at the club previously, I knew exactly what we’d done wrong in the past, even when I was playing.
“I was really determined not to make the same mistakes. We don’t get it everything right – even the great Alex Ferguson made mistakes – but the ones that have come good have really shone.”