Salford hope to avoid the long goodbyes

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The Independent Online

The final weekend of the regular Super League season is a time of farewells for veterans bowing out of the game, but Salford hope that Martin Offiah will not be among them.

The final weekend of the regular Super League season is a time of farewells for veterans bowing out of the game, but Salford hope that Martin Offiah will not be among them.

The former All Black John Timu played his last game for the London Broncos at Leeds on Friday night, opposite Daryl Powell, whose long and distinguished career will stretch into the play-offs but finish when the Rhinos season ends. Two durable Australians also end notable careers today, with Greg Florimo leaving Halifax after a creditable season on the rebound from Wigan and Danny Farrar saying his goodbyes at Warrington, where he has been a stabilising force at hooker throughout three eventful seasons.

That match at Wilderspool will be Offiah's last in Super League this season, but not, if Salford have anything to do with it, his last for the club. Midway through the campaign, the most prolific modern-day winger was talking about forsaking the hard graft of life with a struggling league club in fav- our of a last payday in union.

The way Salford have finished, though, could have gone a long way towards persuading him to have another go at scoring the 27 tries he needs for a career record that would reach the magical figure of 500.

"I always said I would wait until the end of the season before making a decision," Offiah explained. His contemplations will take place on holiday in Ibiza, but Salford are clear that they want him to fulfil the second year of his contract.

My understanding is that he's here for two years," said his coach, John Harvey, of the 33-year-old former Widnes, Wigan and London winger. "I think he's played very well this year. He's shown a real appetite to work hard and he's going to go better next season in a better team." A better team is what Harvey is setting out to build after a first full season in charge that has exceeded all expectations. Widely tipped to finish rock-bottom of Super League, Salford have won 10 games to earn a comfortable mid-table position.

If the improvement this year has been built on getting extra pace into the side, in the shape of signings such as Offiah, Nick Pinkney and the Australians Kris Tassell and Jason Webber, then it is extra power in the forwards that Harvey is looking for next year. He has already picked up Warren Jowitt from Wakefield against heavy competition and has enlisted the former Warrington prop Warren Stevens, who held his own in Super League at 17.

"We've been a bit short of punch in the forwards this year, but the addition of those two will do something about that," Harvey said.

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