Proudly Founded in 1873 • League Leaders’ Shield Winners 2019

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Up Against The Best

ROYCE Simmons says the Saints are “feeling good” and looking forward to the Good Friday Derby.

His charges take on Super League Champions Wigan in their own barn with nothing less than a no holds barred clash expected.

“Wigan are the current premiers so it is very obvious they are going to be difficult to beat,” he said. “We are going up against the best and they have proven that.

“They have had a hard programme this year to get ready for the World Club Challenge and they have come of that and perhaps haven’t reached standards they have in the past over the last couple of weeks.

“There’s not a lot of weaknesses in that team and they have some strike power in them too. We will be concentrating on a few things in attack and be wary in defence too.

“They get numbers into tackles and we like playing the ball quick so there will be a lot of competition there. We will need to have a lot of numbers in attack to gain momentum and stay square and disciplined to counteract their threats.

“We’re all looking forward to it.”

Saints will be without a number of players heading into the match, with what Royce describes as “a side that picks itself” as the club only has 19 fit players in the first team squad.

Kyle Eastmond is out of action with a chest infection, Leon Pryce is still a number of weeks away with a groin injury and Paul Clough has a damaged nerve in his shoulder that will need to settle before any treatment is taken.

He could be sidelined for six to twelve weeks before that takes place.

Chris Flannery’s hamstring will keep him out for three weeks whilst Josh Perry could return for the trip to Hull FC on May 2.

Lee Gaskell has fractured his ankle and will miss the next five to six weeks – and he joins Tom Armstrong (groin – one week), Carl Forster (shoulder – 12 weeks) and Nathan Ashe (jaw – two weeks) on the treatment table.

On the plus side, James Graham should play although he took a knock last week and Shaun Magennis will prove what a warrior his is by making his seventh appearance of the season.

He suffered a dislocated finger, broken nose and caulk in his calf during the win over Wakefield!

Francis Meli is also back and Gary Wheeler will move into the stand-off berth.

“The Easter period isn’t ideal, but you know the rules before you start and there’s no point getting crook about it,” Simmons continued. “It is a heavy workload but there are a lot of harder jobs than playing rugby!”

Royce has also paid tribute to Ade Gardner:

“He has been very good. He has been running the ball in 16/17 times a game; that’s like having an extra front rower. He gets us some real go forward and a roll on as the forwards are getting on side.

“When he gets the chance he is finishing well too. He has done a lot of work under the high ball and has really improved and has been in good form. He probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves.

“We had a conversation at the beginning of the season and I told him there was an opportunity to get back into the first team and earn a new contract and he said that was all he wanted to hear.

“He has taken that on board, has trained hard and it’s no fluke where he is at.”

 

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