Salford playmaker Jackson Hastings has promised he will not go easy on Wigan, the team he will be playing for in 2020.
The talented Australian has been one of the reasons Salford have defied expectations by finishing third in the Super League - their best-ever finish in the competition - and they go into the play-offs on the back of a sensational run of form.
"It's just the team spirit and chemistry we have and the way we play footy,” said Jackson when asked to explain Salford’s current run. “I think we're one of those teams that likes to throw the ball around and move teams around and try and score some nice tries.
“But we also now have grittiness and desire and willingness to work with our teammates that we didn't have at the start of the year.
“It's helped us go on an eight-game winning streak at the backend of the year so we've got players who have been there and done it and toiled their whole careers and are starting to get some recognition.”
Hastings - as well as winger Jake Bibby - will both be moving to Wigan when the season concludes.
Ian Watson’s men have won their last eight games, their best run in the top flight for years. The last time Salford were involved in the play-offs was 2006 - a record which could not be more different to that of their opponents tonight, Wigan Warriors. After winning the first Grand Final in 1998, Wigan have won the crown four more times, including last year.
Salford and Wigan have met three times already this season with the Warriors triumphant in all three. The games at Salford were relatively close, with Wigan getting home 30-22 and 30-26 respectively though at the DW Stadium, the home side prevailed with relative ease 28-12.
Despite Salford’s amazing run, they go into tonight’s game as underdogs against a Wigan team which stuttered through the start of the season only for their form to coincide with downturns at Hull FC and Warrington. But Salford’s away form has been good this year with nine wins from 14 on the road including notable scalps such as Catalans, Hull FC and Warrington twice.
The losers will get a second chance here, the reward for finishing second and third. In last night’s first elimination game, Warrington were beaten at home by Castleford while League Leaders Shield winners and favourites to win the title, St Helens earned a week off by finishing top.
Main image: Salford's Jackson Hastings. Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com