ROYCE Simmons is expecting a lift in performance when Saints take on Featherstone this Sunday.
Although he took most of the blame for the loss to Huddersfield at the Galpharm last weekend he pointed to his charges’ defence as a real area of improvement.
And he’s expecting nothing less than the toughest of matches in the Cup.
“Featherstone are a good side who are coached really well,” Royce said. “Daryl Powell was a really good footballer and a dedicated professional. I am not surprised Steve McNamara has him in the England set up.
“From that you know they will be prepared and good to go. They’re pushing Leigh in the comp and they put 40 points on Sheffield who ran in points against us. If you put a line through that, as Featherstone are doing better, you know we’re in for a hard game.
“Featherstone have always been a tough, physical mob of blokes. Keiron Purtill has watched them recently and was impressed with a number of their players. Liam Flynn in particular is a great organiser and has a good kicking game too.
“But, I’ll be disappointed if there isn’t a lift in our performance on Sunday – especially in defence and I’m looking for a real positive response in that area.”
Saints leaked 40 points over in Huddersfield on Sunday and have been working hard on that facet of their game throughout the week.
Royce continued: “After reviewing the game, I was disappointed with our defence and my own performance.
“We talked throughout the week about having confidence and believing in each over then, after some disruptions in the squad, I tried to make it simpler for the lads.
“Looking back now I shouldn’t have made those changes as perhaps we were a little bit pensive and hesitant. I have to take the blame for that really.
“But that wasn’t what got us beat – it was our defence. It has dropped away over the last few weeks. We scored 18 points last week and could have had more which should have been enough to win the game on the day. But we let them score too many.
“When you are down players there is a preconception that it’s your attack that suffers – if anything your defence suffers more as combinations change all over the field.
“The end result is one on one misses in tackles – but it is hard to tackle when you are going backwards. That is the consequences of letting them get on a roll. We’ve certainly done a lot of one on one training this week.”
Royce isn’t expecting any of Saints lengthy injury list to return this week – and has had to add Chris Flannery and Josh Perry to the walking wounded.
“We’ve decided were not talking about injuries at the club anymore. We’re not talking about who is not going to play, rather who IS going to play. If any of the players say the ‘i’ word I will fine them!
“We are unlikely to have players back this week though. Chris Flannery’s hamstring was fine heading into the match but has damaged his calf. Josh Perry hasn’t broken his knuckle but took a direct hit to on old groin/hip injury. He has a caulk there.
“So once again the kids will get an opportunity with one or maybe two coming into the squad.
“They have served us well. We have used 27 players this season and Scott Hale made his debut last weekend. He was a little hesitant early on, but he did really well and showed enough to show me he has a future.”
Tickets for the match are still on sale at the Saints Superstore in St Helens Town Centre, by calling 01744 455 052 or by logging on to www.saintssuperstore.com
You can also gain entry through the cash turnstiles on Sunday (North, West and East) or buy tickets from the ticket office on the day (from 1pm). Turnstiles open at 1.30pm.