Ready And Willing

SAINTS are battle scarred but good to go according to Royce Simmons.

The bruising encounter with the Bulls recorded Saints’ second win on the bounce, but left the team nursing several bumps and bruises.

Francis Meli is out for three weeks with a hamstring injury and he is joined by Paul Clough (neck) and Jon Wilkin (finger) on the sidelines.

But the burgeoning half-back partnership of Lee Gaskell and Jonny Lomax continued to impress and Simmons expects them to get better and better.

“Gasky and Jonny are playing well and have been the top players in the side over the last couple of weeks,” Simmons said. “The beauty with young blokes is you don’t know when they are going to stop getting better.

“We know they should continue to get better if they continue to work hard. I’m not putting as limitation on the number of games they will play; I just want to see what they can do.

“To be fair though, the team is improving too. The boys on the edges are starting to run better lines and that is making it easier to get quality ball to them.

“The forwards are pushing up more around Robes and that makes him and them more dangerous.

“We are a long way from where we want to get to though but we are heading in the right direction. You don’t find form in just two weeks, but in five or six. We now have to keep the momentum we have going.”

He continues: “There are other positives too. No one was expecting Lee Gaskell to play as many games as he has. Young Tommy Makinson was on the bench against Salford and got ten minutes too – we didn’t expect him to do that.

“And we didn’t know where Shaun Magennis was with injury and now he is playing and is starting to show glimpses of what he can do.”

Jon Wilkin is out of action for the next three to four weeks with a finger injury that was caused when a metal broom he was using in the garden broke and cut through his hand.

Francis Meli has a hamstring problem which looks likely to keep him side-lined for three weeks.

“I had to shake my head when Jon told me his injury… but there is nothing you can do,” Royce said. “Thankfully, there is no tendon damage but some nerve damage. When he comes back it will have to be strapped well.

“Francis was finding a bit of form in the centres and like Ade Gardner had been playing good footy. We’d probably move Gary Wheeler to centre; he played there in the final stages of the last game and that is where he started at the beginning of the year.”

Hull KR are the visitors to the Stobart Stadium this Friday and Simmons knows just how tough a test it will be for Saints.

“Absolutely,” he said. “If they turn up and want to play they are very hard to beat. They have a big pack of forwards and could beat most sides in the competition. They played Warrington and perhaps they should have beaten them too as they were the better side.

“We’ll need speed off the line and to win the ruck if we want to be successful.”


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