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Page last updated at 12:15 GMT, Thursday, 10 February 2011

Salford City Reds season preview 2011

By Nathan Middleton
BBC Radio Manchester

Luke Patten
Luke Patten was twice player of the year with Canterbury Bulldogs

After last season's 12th-placed finish, there have been major changes this winter at Salford.

And it is now hoped that the major recruitment drive, which started in the middle of last season, will help move the City Reds away from the wrong end of the table as the renewal for Super League licences approaches.

As they begin what is expected to be an emotional final season at The Willows, their home for the past 110 years, the most high profile signings is full-back Luke Patten, who joins from Canterbury Bulldogs after over a decade in the NRL.

But they have also brought in Bradford duo Chris Nero and Wayne Godwin, Stephen Wild from Huddersfield, experienced forward Vinnie Anderson and his young Warrington team-mate Adam Neal, Wigan pair Phil Bailey and Iafeta Palea'asina and two from Wakefield, Tevita Leo-Latu and Sean Gleeson.

Head coach Shaun McRae told BBC Radio Manchester: "I'm happy with the squad, happy with who we've recruited and delighted with the way they're training.

"It's nearly time to stop talking. Hopefully we've got a lot more wins in us this season."

The Reds were always capable of beating the top sides on their day, as the 20-10 win over St Helens towards the end of the season showed, but too often they were on the end of heavy defeats.

After only finishing above Catalans and Harlequins in 2010, prop Rob Parker admits that the incoming players have bought a new ethos to the club.

"There has been a massive change," said last season's skipper.

"From the outside looking in, you probably just see a change in personnel.

"But we've changed just the littlest things, like everyone putting their weights back in the gym rather than just throwing them to one side, an etiquette thing.

"We finished 12th last year and people are expecting the same thing saying 'Salford will be propping up the bottom of the league'.

Daniel Holdsworth
Daniel Holdsworth will captain Salford in their final season at The Willows

"The pressure's on those top teams because they've got to back it up. We can just be out from nowhere and nobody bother about us."

As well as the experienced players arrival much is expected of some talented Reds youngsters.

Exciting wingers Jodie Broughton, last season's top Reds scorer with 14 and Ashley Gibson (10) will both hope to continue their try-scoring exploits.

After his impact in the play-offs for St Helens, leading to an appearance in the Grand Final, Matty Smith will look to carry on that form.

And Luke Adamson and Sean Gleeson will both also be looking to continue impressive starts to their careers.

It will be the job of Daniel Holdsworth to take charge of these players on the pitch, taking over the reins from Malcolm Alker who retired at the end of last season to move into an assistant coaching role.

The Australian half-back impressed in his debut season and it shows how highly he is regarded that he has taking the job after just one season.

But the key to this season, their farewell to The Willows before moving to a brand new 20,000-seater stadium in Barton, is to sign off in style.

"I was involved with Hull FC in their last season at The Boulevard," recalls McRae."And it was a great season for me personally.

"What I'm looking forward to is people turning up to savour the memories.

"It's 110 years of great history and it's an emotional year for everyone."

BBC Radio Manchester will have commentary of Salford, Wigan and Warrington throughout the Super League season. 'Rugby League Extra' returns on Thursday (1900 BST) on 95.1FM, DAB and online and will be available again via the iPlayer.

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