ROYCE Simmons is looking forward to giving youth the chance to shine when Saints take on Salford.
Saints have omitted four first team players from their squad as they prepare to win at the Willows for the first time since 2007.
Leon Pryce is out with a groin problem, whilst James Graham, Gary Wheeler and Josh Perry are also unavailable.
“We’ll be going into the game with a younger side and I’m excited by that,” Simmons said. “Lee Gaskell will probably play in the halves and if Paul Wellens doesn’t make it then a younger kid will come in. There will be a couple of blokes who hardly played any first team last season in there.”
Saints head into the match on the back of a courageous ‘come from behind’ point at Millennium Magic.
They overturned a 16-0 deficit with less than a quarter of the game remaining and could have snatched it at the death if a Kyle Eastmond drop-goal attempt had been a couple of feet to the right.
Saints were scratchy in the match and Royce admits that was understandable considering the withdrawal of Pryce.
“We went into the whole off-season with Lee Gaskell and Leon Pryce training together at halves as we expected them to play together come the first match. But we went into the first game with two boys who haven’t trained a lot together. Gary [Wheeler] has been training in the centres and Kyle has done virtually nothing.
“Naturally, there were a few kinks there as they haven’t trained together. In this match we will have a different combination again. Kyle will be better for the run out though and we should see that this week.
“We did a lot of things right in the game and if we had gotten over the line earlier we would have had a lot more confidence too. Getting held up over the line was denting the boys’ confidence a bit but we had more opportunities too.
“I have shown the players the chances they had and I think they were surprised. That said, Wigan’s scrambling defence was first class at times.”
He continued: “I thought James Roby put in an amazing performance. One of the things I have asked him to do is talk more during the game and give more direction. He did that and didn’t lose any energy too.
“We also saw glimpses of what Sia Soliola and Tony Puletua are all about too.
“This Friday’s game will be tough as we haven’t won there since 2007 and have conceded something like 68 points on our last two visits. They have tricky half backs and I noticed they have played up the middle and dominated our forwards in the past too. Then, they’ve hit us with a top kicking game.
“Luke Pattern was one of the best full backs in the NRL for the past few years and if it wasn’t for the likes of Billy Slater, he would have had test jumpers.
“We will have to pay a little bit of attention to him.”
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Salford have won their last two home games against St Helens, 42-34 on 15 May, 2010 and 20-10 on 3 July, 2009. St Helens’ last win at The Willows was 32-20 on 17 August, 2007.
Super League summary
Salford won 4
St Helens won 23
Salford highest score: 42-34 (H, 2010) (Widest margin: 39-26, H, 1997)
St Helens highest score: 66-16 (H, 2001) (Widest margin: 58-4, A, 2000)
FRANCIS MELI of St Helens has the longest try scoring run in Engage Super League, covering three matches (including the 2010 play-offs) as follows: 1-1-1