The story behind one of Salford Red Devils’ best decisions in the shadow of Gareth O’Brien’s drop goal

When most people think of October 1st 2016 and Salford Red Devils, one man comes to mind.

That would be Gareth O’Brien for his long range drop goal that kept Salford in Super League and relegated Hull KR to the Championship.

One of the most dramatic games we’ve ever seen in British rugby league history as the Red Devils came back from 18-10 with just minutes left to send the game to Golden Point.

In the first set, O’Brien carved his name into history with a huge long range drop goal that gave Salford one of the most memorable wins ever away from home resulting in heartache for Hull KR.

However, what happened to another man that day was perhaps even more significant for Salford.

That’s because that was the day then owner Marwan Koukash approached a former player to be a part of the club moving forward.

That man was Ian Blease who after the game was approached by wealthy owner Koukash to re-join the club behind the scenes and given the role he has played in the years since, this was even more important than the drop goal that secured their Super League survival.

Blease has been behind some of the most important decision Salford have made in recent years as they’ve become a genuine contender for major final places.

He helped appoint Ian Watson and sign Jackson Hastings who guided the Red Devils to an unlikely Grand Final in 2019 in what was Salford’s finest ever Super League campaign.

A year later the Red Devils played in a first Challenge Cup Final in decades where the club came up just short against the Rhinos at Wembley.

That looked to be the end of the journey at Salford, but the club has proven they will continue to compete at the top with a semi-final appearance against St Helens this year.

It all stems back to the decision Koukash made in 2016 to bring in Blease as Director of Rugby and last night, six years after the decision, Blease took to Twitter to reflect on that big decision last night: “Wow seen some Million Pound Game stuff tonight! Got me thinking it’s six years ago today I was given the opportunity after the game to join my club Salford Red Devils by Marwan Koukash truly & forever grateful (not forgetting the players & G O’Brien)…been some journey.”

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