ROYCE Simmons will rest James Roby and Francis Meli this weekend as Saints sign off their Engage Super League regular season programme.
His charges travel to Harlequins this Saturday hoping to avenge the early season defeat to the Londoners and build some form heading into the playoffs.
“We got through the Salford game with no injuries but we’ll probably field a young side at the weekend,” he explained. “James Roby has been playing with a hand injury, so we’ll give him a week off to get over that.
“Francis Meli has had a few hamstring problems too this season so I will give him a week off too. Sia Soliola also has a few niggles that we don’t want to risk.
“Of course, if Saturday’s match was a Grand Final these blokes would play – but I said I would play a fit side this week. We want to go in Semi Finals strong and fit.
“I’d like to give Chris Flannery a game this week if possible, but he’s a bit away at present in recovering from his knee cartilage.
“Tony Puletua won’t play until the first Semi Final and Kyle Eastmond is still working hard on getting his groin right. He is still a week away too. Josh Perry and Shaun Magennis are definitely out but Ade Gardner might have a chance for the playoffs later on as he’s at about 70 to 80 per cent.
“Therefore, Matty Ashurst and Andrew Dixon will start and Scott Hale will get more game time. Carl Forster has good chance of making his debut too. Gary Wheeler will play left centre – a position he really likes – and Lee Gaskell will get time too.”
Harlequins produced a superb performance to beat Saints 27-16 earlier in the season but their form since then hasn’t matched those standards.
But Royce expects them to come at Saints hard – especially with it being Rob Purdham’s last match for the club.
“It will be a tough match and no doubt they will be fired up for their captain. I am excited about the game too as the young lads will bring a lot of energy for us.
“We have secured third place and I don’t mind allowing my mind to look at the playoffs. We’re continuing to grow as a team and that’s important.
“I don’t expect the players to look ahead though. I’m sure heading into the playoffs as underdogs will suit us – but we will only be underdog only to the media and maybe to the fans of the other clubs. We’re not underdogs in terms of players and fans.. I’m not thinking that way and my team isn’t either.
“We want to be the best side in the competition and prove to ourselves to each other, our families and the fans. That’s what it’s about.”