Salford’s run to the Super League Grand Final against St Helens on Sunday is the most remarkable Rugby League story in recent history, says Sky Sports Rugby League expert Phil Clarke.
St Helens will be appearing in their first final for five years while Salford will be making their Grand Final debut at Old Trafford on Saturday, live on Sky Sports.
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Clarke believes Salford’s underdog mentality, the key battle between Jackson Hastings and Jonny Lomax and St Helens’ ‘choker’ tag could all prove to be decisive factors in Saturday’s final.
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“It is the most remarkable story in my life time in Rugby League terms,” Clarke said.
“The Salford fans had a greater chance of going to the moon than they did going to the Grand Final when the season began back in February. They have done so, so well.
“St Helens – that model of consistency – they’ve won nine more games than Salford over the course of a 29-game competition. But we all know in Rugby League it is about winning the last game.
“All of the pressure is on St Helens’ side. They lost in last year’s Challenge Cup semi-final, they lost in last year’s play-off semi-final and they lost in the Challenge Cup final this year.
“Some people say they are chokers, all the pressure is on them.
“Salford have nothing to lose. They’ve had a fantastic season so far and their supporters are believing that this could be their year.”
‘Salford’s underdog spirit is their strength’
“I think everybody likes to be the underdog. There are lots of underdogs across many leagues, across many sports but not many can achieve what Salford have this year,” Clake aded.
“St Helens’ success is based on their speed and their strength, Salford’s is simply on their spirit. So many times they have performed remarkably well.”
Key battle: Hastings vs Lomax
“Jackson Hastings was a teenage star in Sydney but his career went off the rails. Effectively he ended up in Rugby League rehab when he came to Salford, at 23 years of age he’s been able to turn that around.
“His performances and ability have turned average players into good ones for Salford this year. It’s the reason why they have managed to get to the Grand Final.
“He stated the opinion when he won the award as the best player in the competition this week that actually Jonny Lomax is the best player in the Super League, such is the respect he has for his opponent. Both of them are left-sided generals that really do make the team tick
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