ADRIAN Morley was made as a player in Leeds but is Salford born and bred.

That is why the England legend is backing the Red Devils to win on their first Wembley appearance since 1969, despite their Covid-19 concerns.

And he knew as an 11-year-old that Ian Watson – who is waiting on inconclusive results after two players tested positive for coronavirus – will go on to be a coach after playing alongside him.

Saturday sees Salford face Leeds in the Challenge Cup final. The day fans in the city have waited 51 years for but one two players will miss after testing positive for coronavirus – but Lee Mossop and Mark Flanagan were cleared after retests.

Normally the man known as Moz would want Leeds to lift the trophy after they nurtured him into one of the best props the country has ever produced.

But this year is different – home is where the heart is.

Morley said: “I loved my time at the Rhinos and won the Challenge Cup with them. Leeds was a big part of my life but I was born and bred in Salford.

“Leeds have had enough success over the last 20 years – they can share the love! I’m sure the Leeds faithful would forgive me if I have my Salford flag flying on Saturday.

“I’m a Salford fan essentially. Always have been and always will be.

“It will be weird watching Salford at Wembley as I’ve never had that luxury. It’s just fantastic, making last year’s Grand Final was a massive shot in the arm for the city, to double it up is absolutely incredible.

“It’s bittersweet, though. Only Salford could make the Challenge Cup final when no fans will be there but they’d sooner compete for the trophy with no-one there than not compete at all.”

Salford boss Watson is a hero in his home city for what he has done at the Red Devils, but this has been more than 30 years in the making.

Even when they were on the same junior side at Eccles, Morley knew he was something special.

He added: “I think he won Player of the Year every year at Eccles as he was that consistent, he’s always had a great rugby league brain and it’s no surprise to see him doing what he’s doing.

“We were 11-years-old but he was always a good talker, he was captain of the town team too. He’ll probably admit himself he wasn’t the fastest but he’s had it up top.

“He joined the coaching ranks at Salford when I was there and was really impressed. He comes across as level headed and that calmness passes into the team. I have seen him lose it, though, being a coach makes you grey and bald!

“Now players want to go to Salford, they used to get the dregs really. That’s all down to Ian and his philosophy.”

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