Preview: Bradford v Salford

Salford skipper Malcolm Alker is hoping to avoid more public humiliation at Bradford on Saturday in his side's first-ever Super League play-off tie.

Coach Karl Harrison reckons the Reds had their worst display of the year in losing 34-4 at Odsal in February.

Alker was also in the Salford side that suffered a Super League record 96-16 humiliation on the same ground in 2000.

He was so embarrassed he issued a public apology the next day. "It was the least we could have done," he said.

"We were very poor that day. We had at least seven young kids playing but there were no excuses.

"The play-offs were a billion miles away then. It was all about survival. A couple of years after that it was still about survival and when we got relegated it was about survival.

"Fortunately, our fortunes have turned around and, over the last four or five years since Karl came, new structures were put in place and at the minute everything is going right for us.

"Rather than fighting for survival, we are pushing for the Grand Final.

"The long-term aim was to get into the top six but, now we've achieved that, we're not shutting up shop. It's all about setting new targets. The goalposts have been moved again."

The long-serving Alker, 27, is in his testimonial year at The Willows and has experienced plenty of low moments in his Salford career.

He turned down the chance earlier this year to join Australian side St George Illawarra in order to sign a new three-year contract with the Reds.

Although he has a get-out clause which would enable him to go to Australia if a new offer came in, he is confident he made the right decision.

"I've been here 11 years now and I've probably had more bad times than good ones but this cements my decision to sign a new contract," he added.

"If I had left, I would have kicked myself now that the club has gone full circle.

"If the opportunity arose to go to Australia, I could go, but at this moment in time I'm happy where I am."

After their best-ever Super League campaign, Salford are also expected to make an announcement shortly on a start date for their new ?35m stadium development at nearby Barton.

Bradford v Salford, Saturday 23 September Grattan Stadium (Odsal), Kick-off: 1800 BST Live commentary on BBC Five Live Sports Extra and the BBC Sport website.

Bradford Bulls 20-man squad: Johnson, Burgess, Meyers, Cook, I. Harris, Bai, Pryce, St Hilaire, B. Harris, Langley, Newton, Ferres, Deacon, Vagana, Vainikolo, Hape, McKenna, Withers, Lynch, Henderson.

Salford City Reds 20-man squad: Fitzpatrick, Hodgson, McGuinness, Moule, Dunemann, Robinson, Coley, Alker, Rutgerson, Finnigan, Charles, Highton, Wilshere, Haggerty, Littler, Brocklehurst, Adamson, Lima, Williams, Turner.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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