DARRELL Goulding reckons tonight’s match at Salford will carry more significance than most friendlies.
Shaun Wane takes a strong Warriors squad to the City of Salford Stadium for a game which will serve as a dress-rehearsal for the Super League opener at the same venue on February 1.
Both squads will be keen to put their off-season work into practice – even if that risks showing their hand before they meet again two weeks later.
Goulding said: “We watch a lot of footage on all of our opponents, but usually – for the first couple of games – you don’t have any fresh footage on them so it can be quite tough.
“This time we won’t have any footage of Salford, but at least we’ll have the experience of playing against them so it can certainly help us in that respect.
“Anything new that they’ve been working on, presumably they’ll want to put it into practice in these matches.
“It’s a friendly but we’re also aware that we play them again in two weeks.”
Although Wane will be holding some of his frontline stars back for next week’s friendly at Warrington, he has picked a strong squad including former Reds half-back Matty Smith and new recruit Blake Green.
The likes of Harrison Hansen, Ben Flower, Liam Farrell, Jack Hughes and Goulding are also expected to get some action.
“It’s a strange feeling because pre-season goes so quickly but at the same time, it feels like ages since my last game,” added Goulding, who missed the pre-season defeats at Leigh and Hull KR.
Salford – still hopeful of a takeover by Marwan Koukash – postponed a friendly against Leigh last weekend because Phil Veivers’ senior squad is so stretched.
Ex-Warriors centre Martin Gleeson is expected to sign a two-year deal once the Reds’ future is secure after returning from a doping ban he was handed while at Hull FC.
Wiganer Gleeson, 32, is an injury doubt for tonight’s encounter against the club for whom he scored two tries during their Grand Final triumph in 2010.
But Goulding has no doubts the Reds may have unearthed one of the signings of the winter if he can get back to his best.
He said: “I think it’s good to see Gleese back in the game. He’s been through a lot and who knows? It might be the thing that gets his career on track.”
Goulding scored 29 tries when he played on the wing outside of Gleeson in 2010.
“I’ve said before that a lot of those tries were down to the work that Gleese did,” added the 24-year-old.
“I don’t think there’s anyone who would question how good he is on the pitch.
“On his day, he’s up there with the best centres I’ve played with or against. He could be a great signing.Salford played an attractive style last year, I think having Sean Long on the staff has helped, so I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Gleese doing well there.”