Rugby League: Reds given wake-up call by Gregory

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The Independent Online
ANDY GREGORY has ordered his Salford players in for another 7am training stint tomorrow as he seeks to drive them from "the comfort zone".

The Reds' coach has adopted a draconian stance towards team preparations following the club's eighth straight defeat in Super League. His players were ordered to report for training at 6.45am yesterday following Tuesday night's 30-14 defeat at Halifax and, after giving the players a rest today, has told his squad to set their alarms early again tomorrow.

"Perhaps a few of them have had it too easy so far," Gregory, the longest- serving coach in the professional game, said. "If you want to be successful in life, you have got to graft. Some of them don't know how lucky they are. These players don't have to get up at 6am to dig holes. They have an easy life."

Gregory, who used to combine his job as a scrap metal merchant with helping Wigan to Wembley glory five times in a row up to 1992, decided to get tough after watching his side produce an error-strewn performance at Halifax, where they experienced a fifth successive defeat.

The Salford captain, David Hulme, said: "It was a bit of a shock when he told us to be in for seven. At least it was light with the clocks having gone forward. At the end of the day, you have just got to get on with it. We are privileged compared to most people."

Hulme missed the defeat by Halifax with an ankle injury but hopes to be fit for the Reds' next two home matches, against Castleford and Huddersfield.

"They're probably the most important games of the season," said Hulme, who at 35 is the oldest player in Super League.

"We have a difficult May when we play the big guns and it's vital we get four points from these next two games.

"The way the games have been going, it's bound to get you down, I'd be lying if I said otherwise. But we're all professionals and we have to get on with it."

Salford suffered more disappointment with the loss of the hooker Malcolm Alker, who will have X-rays on an injured shoulder today, and the news that full-back Gary Broadbent faces another fortnight out with a damaged ankle.

Workington's former St Helens and Salford forward, Paul Forber, was yesterday banned for five matches and fined pounds 100 after being found guilty of deliberate use of a forearm to the head of an opponent in his side's Northern Ford Premiership match against Dewsbury last month.

Arthur Thomas, the 55-year-old businessman who was a director of Wigan for eight months during 1997, has joined the board at Super League leaders St Helens.