Kallum Wakins says Salford must see the Challenge Cup as a golden opportunity rather than worry about the prestige of this year’s event.
The competition lost six teams when Toronto withdrew and the Championship and League One seasons didn’t restart, forcing a re-draw for matches that will largely be played behind closed doors. Salford go into Friday’s quarter-finals against 2018 winners Catalans having not yet played a round this year.
But Red Devils’ new boy Watkins – who makes his debut against the Dragons – says the club’s history in the cup as past winners and six-time runners up overrides that.
Lifelong Salford fan Watkins said: “The crowds not being in the stadium makes it a totally different atmosphere to the usual Challenge Cup, and teams have had to pull out.
“It’s an odd year in terms of circumstances but this is still an opportunity to get to a final and win a trophy and that’s our aim. The Challenge Cup is a proud part of Salford’s history and we have to concentrate on that and not worry about circumstances.”
Watkins has been brought back to his boyhood club by Red Devils coach Ian Watson after short spells at Gold Coast Titans and Toronto, the latter where he didn't play a game. Watson is confident he can help the 29-year-old recapture the form that saw him recognised as one of the world’s best centres during his trophy-laden time with Leeds Rhinos.
Among Watkins’ winners medals are two in the Challenge Cup so he is fully aware of the competition’s stature. He added: “Being able to do that twice is a huge honour and one I’m very grateful for.
“Now, playing for Salford where it all began as a supporter and a ball boy, this means a lot to me. It’s been an up and down season for Salford so far and it hasn’t been easy having weeks off for coronavirus outbreaks at other clubs.
“Our defence has been the issue mainly recently, and if we can get a bit more consistency there then the results will come because with the ball we can be lethal.
“We’ve had two weeks to prepare for this and if we can get our defence right mentally, we’re ready for this. Getting to the Grand Final last year was a great success for the club, now we want to push on and keep expectations high.”
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