Write us off at your peril is Jackson Hastings’ call to naysayers as Salford Red Devils get set for one of the biggest games in their Betfred Super League history.
Discarded before a ball was even kicked, Salford have surprised all around them to sit just two games from Old Trafford and a place in the Betfred Super League Grand Final for the first time.
First comes a semi-final against Castleford Tigers on Thursday night as the Red Devils look to take their unlikely season one step further.
Not that Hastings is concerned by being an underdog at the AJ Bell Stadium.
“The past two months have all been big. We had a lot of support last weekend and that’s a big indication of how much it means to the fanbase that have been here through the lean years,” he said.
“We wrote down at the start of the year that the Grand Final was where we wanted to be, we’re one game away from giving ourselves a crack at that.
“It’s been nice to get to where we are, but it would mean nothing if we bow out against Castleford.
“We were predicted to finish 11th or 12th, people expected us to be whipping boys and to struggle to win a game.
“But we’ve broken every record in the club’s history – most consecutive wins, most away wins, most points in a season – and it’s got us into an exciting position.
“Nobody gave us hope but that didn’t matter to us, it was about what we believed in and we’ve got a strong head coach who believed in every single bloke he brought in.
“You’re seeing the best of him as a coach and us as players, hopefully we can put ourselves one game away from a Grand Final.”
Defeated but not disgraced by Wigan in their Qualifying Final, a six-point loss offers Salford plenty of hope heading into a season-defining game upon which so much rests.
Indeed the home side enjoyed a 26-16 victory when the two sides met at the AJ Bell earlier in the season, part of an impressive campaign based largely on their home form.
A 17-16 win over Hull KR proved enough to bag Red Devils third place in the regular season, but it’s all about how they far from hereon that matters to Hastings.
“If we get our defence right then we know we can beat anyone on our day,” said the 23-year-old.
“We were disappointed to lose to Wigan, people thought we would lose by 30 but we came and gave a really good account of ourselves.
“We thought we should have won it but we didn’t, but that’s gone and we just have to focus on Castleford. There’s no point dwelling on what’s gone before.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in a few of these games, it’s exciting and they’re the games you want to be a part of.
“The work you put in in pre-season leads to this, it’s all about what you can do on the night and being willing to win.
“We’ve got a lot of experience in the team, we’ve got players that have been there and done it and it’s funny how people forget about that.
“Our leaders have really stood up this week, and what will be, will be.”
The Betfred Super League Grand Final is the biggest night in Super League and takes place at Old Trafford, the iconic home of Manchester United on Saturday 12 October (6pm KO). Secure your seat by visiting https://www.superleague.co.uk/tickets/grand-final