Flash: Big Year Ahead

MARK Flanagan says the hard work is almost done and now it’s time to convert it into a good performance.

Speaking ahead of this Friday’s SOLD OUT Karalius Cup clash with Widnes Vikings – the first game at Langtree Park – he believes Saints’ fans are in for an exciting season.

“It’s been good so far,” he said. “It was a bit of a culture shock coming over from Australia but I have really enjoyed it. The boys have been very welcoming and along with Lance Hohaia and Anthony Laffranchi it’s like we have been here for a while.

“It’s been a tough pre-season as Matt Daniels has worked us hard, but we are ready for the season ahead.”

‘Flash’ signed from Wests Tigers in the off-season and is expected to take up a role at loose forward or second row – although he admits competition for places in those areas will be strong.

He joined Saints after two years in the NRL.

“I had been with Wests for two years, had an offer to stay and a few others too,” he continued. “But when I weighted them all up, the chance to play for Saints was too good to pass up.

“They are a great club and with the stadium and new signings I saw a very exciting future for Saints. I enjoyed it in Australia and it certainly helped my game. I played with some great players and when you’re learning off the Australian national coach then it has to benefit you. It was a great experience living in a different culture too. I grew up a lot.

“It will be a big year at Saints though, and we can’t wait to get out there. The younger players surprised me with how well they did last season, Jonny Lomax and Lee Gaskell played well in the halves without Leon Pryce and Kyle Eastmond and took the team to the Grand Final. Jamie Foster, Tommy Makinson did well too and young Joe Greenwood looks to be a good player in the making.”

He continued: “Widnes will be a tough match. They will have a strong side and we will need to play well. But we need to concentrate on our own performance and do the things we have been training for.

“I’ll slot into the back row hopefully and link up with attack. Gone are the days of say as Paul Sculthorpe or Andy Farrell. The attacking work is done through 6, 7 and 9. Effectively, loose forward is another back rower. I am looking forward to taking to the field.”

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