Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Sunday's Coming: St Helens

In the words of Richard Jobson (and, assuming that the weather doesn't throw the same curveball as it did in 2013), this week: The Saints Are Coming - in the shape of a St Helens Select XIII.

Having forged a successful dual registration relationship over the last 12 months - the game should have an internecene feel to it. And, given Oldhan's reticence to defend the Law Cup, St Helens should provide a high quality pre-season contest against 'those who know us best'.

Given that Saints play Wigan in the James Roby testimonial game on Friday evening, it's likely that their  line-up will have a somewhat 'experimental' feel to it. But  as a club, Saints have signed some serious fire-power for the upcoming Super League arms race.

Up-front, they've augmented quite possibly the biggest and most mobile pack in Super League with the World-Cup's bluntest-weapon - Samoan battering ram Mose Masoe.
Mose Masoe and Luke Walsh - all the best NRL players
graduate via Henson Park

The ex-Sydney Roosters, ex-Penrith Panthers forward comes into a pack that includes Sia Solomona, Anthony Laffranchi, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Willie Manu, John Wilkin, James Roby and last season's gun SL rookie Alex Walmesley.

But an armoured division of such raw power needs a general, and - again - Nathan Brown has raided Penrith to bring the Panthers' scrum-half Luke Walsh to Langtree Park.

Honed in six years of NRL experience (starting with home-town club Newcastle), Walsh will be one to watch this year - and it'd be great if he got some game-time at Spotland. It looks increasingly likely that Nathan Brown will run former Hull three-quarter Jordan Turner at stand-off, handing the adaptable Lance Hohaia a more roving utility role.

Out wide, Brown faces a 'three-into-two-won't-go' situation: Tommy Makinson and Adam Swift - both of whom appeared for Hornets last year on Dual Reg - occupy the box seats for the wing berths, leaving experienced try-machine Ade Gardner the third man in the equation.

Regardless, it'll be another good test for Ian Talbot's squad as he looks to build momentum on the back of the win v Leigh U20s a couple of weeks ago.

While Talbot will likely use the game to start shaping his first 17 ahead of the new season, Saints will give valuable game time to those first team players who don't play in the James Roby testimonial alongside a selection of academy players.

And, as it's our first game at Spotland this year, it'll be a great opportunity for supporters to  renew acquaintances, run the rule over our new guys and start our own pre-season warm up for the Championship season ahead.

See you there - and bring a friend.

St Helens 2014 squad is:

1. Jonny Lomax
2. Tom Makinson
3. Jordan Turner
4. Josh Jones
5. Adam Swift
6. Lance Hohaia
7. Luke Walsh
8. Mose Masoe
9. James Roby
10. Louis McCarthy Scarsbrook
11. Sia Soliola
12. Jon Wilkin
13. Willie Manu
14. Anthony Laffranchi
15. Mark Flanagan
16. Kyle Amor
17. Paul Wellens
18. Alex Walmsley
19. Paul Clough
20. Richard Beaumont
21. Ade Gardner
22. Mark Percival
23. Joe Greenwood
24. Gary Wheeler
25. Anthony Walker
26. Matty Dawson
27. Greg Richards
28. Luke Thompson
29. Jordan Hand
30. Carl Forster
31. James Tilley
32. Lewis Charnock
33. Andre Savelio
34. Connor Dwyer
35. Alex Clare
- Jack Ashworth
- Lewis Galbraith