Salford director Ian Blease has revealed the extent of the club’s injury list after the Red Devils effectively forfeited Friday night’s game with Warrington.
The Wolves have been awarded a 24-0 win with the matter now referred to the RFL’s compliance department for further consideration.
That ruling has been made because unlike other recently postponed and cancelled Super League fixtures, none of the Red Devils’ absences are down to positive Covid-19 tests.
Instead they have been decimated by injuries during a hectic run of matches that saw Monday’s game against St Helens their seventh in under a month.
Blease explained: “We’ve been a little bit victims of our own success. Having the Challenge Cup semi-final and final has added to the log-jam, and having looked at the stats last night we’ve been playing matches every 3.8 days.
“There’s only us and Leeds that have done that and they’ve got a full academy to call on. I’m not making an excuse – we’ve used two loan players and two from our academy, but even with them we’ve only got 13 fit bodies.
“From an employers’ point of view I’ve got to look after their welfare. I had a good chat last night with our physio and Watto (coach Ian Watson), and we agreed that we just can’t put the boys through it again.
“We did it against Saints on Monday – Lee Mossop and Oliver Roberts played with broken ribs and Gil Dudson was sick four times on the day of the game. I stood outside the physio room after the game and watched them come out, and it wasn’t nice.
“It was one of the toughest decisions I’ve made in my life, but I spoke at length with our captain Lee Mossop and we agreed we can’t do that again, it’s just not fair.”
The cancelled fixture was Super League’s second in a matter of hours, with Friday’s Huddersfield-Castleford game also off after the Tigers reported 12 positive Covid-19 cases in their squad. It brings to the forefront talks between clubs to end the season prematurely and move to an extended play-offs series next month.
Blease accepts that the Red Devils will be criticised in some quarters but insists he is comfortable with the decision.
He added: “We built our squad on playing one game a week, not three, it’s as simple as that. People might say our squad isn’t big enough, but we’ve got 32 in total including the two loans and academy lads, and that tells you how badly we’ve been hit.
“We were down to 13 fit and it was all in the wrong positions. We’d have had centres playing prop, and it becomes a player welfare issue then – somebody could get seriously hurt and that won’t happen on my watch.”
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