21st March 2018, 13:08 | salford

Olpherts set for Super League debut

Olpherts set for Super League debut

Former Newcastle Thunder winger Derrell Olpherts is poised to make his Betfred Super League debut for Salford Red Devils.

The 26-year-old has been forced to bide his time after joining Salford in the close season but, with a major injury doubt over one of his outside backs, coach Ian Watson has confirmed he will get his big chance against Widnes Vikings at the Halton Stadium on Thursday.

“He’ll be getting his debut tomorrow so that’s a big one for us and a big one for Derrell as well,” Watson said.

“We’re looking forward to it because we’ve put quite a lot of work into him and he’s doing things really well at the moment.

“He’s not a young lad but he’s young in terms of Super League experience

“With the maturity he’s shown in the off season and during the season waiting for his chance and working hard, I think he’ll come in and take it with both hands.”

The Wakefield-born Olpherts began playing rugby league at the age of seven and had spells with Featherstone and Dewsbury but drifted in and out of the game before finally catching the eye at Hemel and Newcastle, for whom he scored 18 tries in 24 appearances in 2017.

Olpherts will be hoping to help Salford claim a first away win for 10 months and, following last week’s notable success over Hull, first back-to-back victories since last May.

The Red Devils are still in the bottom four and Watson appreciates that, with strong competition expected from the top Championship clubs, a second successive top-eight finish could be more crucial than ever.

“The Championship is a tough, strong competition this year,” said Watson, whose side needed to win the Million-Pound Game in 2016 to preserve their Super League status.

“Getting into the eight is a big target of ours. We want to build some momentum and become that consistent top-eight club so players want to come here.”

Watson says the club are active in the transfer market after selling full-back Gareth O’Brien to Toronto and admit it will probably take news of a signing to halt the continuing rumours over the future of the club following the departure of wealthy benefactor Marwan Koukash.

“The club have been pretty adamant that there is no need to sell,” Watson said. “There probably has to be a stronger message that we’re looking to build in areas and enhance our squad going forward.

“I presume until we actually do bring somebody else in, people will keep thinking they can come and get some of our players.

“We’ve been speaking to a couple but the tough thing is Easter coming up, nobody wants to move anybody yet.”

Widnes coach Denis Betts is full of admiration for Watson’s ability to cope with the off-field distractions.

“The rumours have been there for the last two years but they always seem to fight through adversity,” Betts said.

“They will be tough to beat. They seem to have had the wood on us in the last couple of years, hopefully we can turn that around.”