Ian Watson keen to prove the doubters wrong all over again at Salford Red Devils

Ian Watson says he’s not surprised his Salford Grand Finalists are already being written off as possible relegation fodder.

But the Red Devils coach insists he’ll have the last laugh on the doubters who claim his team are one-hit wonders.

Salford enjoyed a fairytale run to Old Trafford last October after starting the year being branded as no-hopers.

But even their Grand Final heroics, where they went down fighting 23-6 to St Helens, are not enough to convince the sceptics.

Watson said: “We want to prove people wrong who say we will finish tenth or eleventh and that last year was a fluke – it’s good motivation for us.

“I have got used to people writing us off. I would love to be a team that has the expectation of needing to compete in Grand Finals. We aren’t but we want to be.”

Star man Jackson Hastings has joined Wigan, one of 12 players who have left over the winter.

Great Britain half back and Man of Steel winner Hastings has been replaced by 35-year-old Kevin Brown, whose 2019 season was virtually wiped out by a ruptured Achilles.

It’s a switch that has underwhelmed some Salford fans, even though Brown appeared in the World Cup final in 2017 with England.

Watson said: “Jacko was a runner and explosive and could do things on his own but Kev is very much a team player and can create things.

“People will question it saying Warrington didn’t want him, he’s a bit older and a bit of an unknown now because of his injury.

“But Kev’s a top quality professional. We will play in a slightly different way with Kev but I think in a better way that will suit our team.”

Salford have the lowest budget in Super League with some clubs able to spend around half a million pounds more on players.

Unless the community-funded Red Devils can attract regular crowds of 5,000 or more, that is unlikely to change.

Watson said: “Early doors it was kind of hard for me to get my head around. But at Salford we prove that you don’t just do everything through money.”

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