Former Salford youth player Chris Hankinson is looking to make his debut for the Red Devils’ first team in their opening game of the new season.
Hankinson, 30, who was born in Wigan, played his junior years at the Ashton Bears before going through the youth system of the Salford City Reds.
““I left when they were still the Salford City Reds (in 2014) and now it’s Red Devils so, it’s good to go do a full circle and eventually come back. It’s always been in the back of my mind throughout my career but I’m really excited to get going now,” said Hankinson.
Despite playing in the youth system, Christopher never managed to make a first team appearance.
“What a story that is to go from the club and come back years later with a long and storied journey in between,” said Salford Assistant Coach Kurt Haggerty. “He will fill in in the outside box for us and he is an intelligent rugby player, so with the system we have Chris has fitted in very well.”
Haggerty talked about the expectations from their new signing: “We just want him to come here and enjoy his rugby and enjoy playing with the group.”
Hankinson experienced a roller-coaster of a season with Featherstone last year. After claiming the Championship League Leaders title Rovers were knocked out in the semi-final of the play-offs by London Broncos.
“It was bittersweet, we won the League leaders but ultimately it didn’t count for much because everybody’s goal and especially our goal was to get that Super League promotion,” said 30-year-old centre.
Hankinson reflected on last season: “We’ve had to move on pretty quickly, it was pretty sore for quite a long time and it’s probably the worst I felt following a loss. But you move on and get bigger and better things.”
Red Devils spent a week of their pre-season in the sunny Algarve in Portugal where they were getting ready for the new season.
“We got a really good opportunity to get what we needed out of Portugal, especially with the conditions – great pitch, great facilities in Algarve. So, I really enjoyed it and I wish we could go back!”
Salford missed out on the play-offs by two points last season, so the goal for this season is clear.
“Obviously we’ve lost a couple of really good players, but I think the competition and the quality in the team is more than good enough to be competing against the top teams. So play offs is a minimum for us.”
Red Devils start the new Betfred Rugby Super League campaign at Leeds Rhinos on Friday 16th February.