ACTING Head Coach Mike Rush is playing a waiting game as he awaits medical reports on four players injured over the Easter Weekend.
Jon Wilkin (shoulder) came off the field on Good Friday whilst Tony Puletua (shoulder), Ade Gardner (knee) and Gary Wheeler (hamstring) didn’t finish the clash at Castleford yesterday.
“TP has a scan yesterday on his shoulder and it looks serious,” he admitted. “With Ade’s knee it could be a whole host of things minor to major. We can’t tell until the swelling goes down.
“Gary felt his hamstring in the game and again we won’t know until it is scanned. I feel for Wheels, he doesn’t seem to be able to get a run of games. On Monday, he single-handily created the first try and every time we made a break he was there. Hopefully, it isn’t too serious and he gets that run of games.
“With Jon Wilkin, we are again waiting for results. It’s a fine line between asking players to strap up and doing long term damage. He is as brave as we have got – but we have to try and manage what is best for the long term and the player.
“On the plus side though, Jonny’s finger is fine so he should be in line to return this week.”
The injuries leave Rush with several choices to make ahead of this weekend’s Challenge Cup Fourth Round tie at Widnes – especially on the wing:
“Tommy Makinson, Adam Swift and Jamie Foster all are in with a shout for that wing spot. A lot depends on who is playing well and fitness too. Adam has been in the 19 for the last two weeks and is benefitting from that experience. He won’t be far away on getting a shout at some point.
“Since Josh Jones has come in, he’s done really well. We need to keep his feet on the floor and he needs to continue to do what he is doing. He was a powerful centre with genuine pace too. At Castleford, every time he carried the ball he looked like winning the battle on the floor.”
He continued: “It wasn’t difficult to lift the lads after the Good Friday defeat because they knew they had to give one more massive effort. It’s hard when you go to Cas and have prepared to face the likes of Rangi Chase and Danny Orr. We prepared for them and perhaps it is tougher mentally when you aren’t facing that. I felt in the first 20 minutes we needed to get some points on the board and it could have been different.
“But this happens over the Easter weekend. I think the RFL do have to have a look at playing Friday and Monday. Maybe you could have all the local derbies spread across the weekend on the TV? We played an intense game against Wigan and then had to dust off and ask 110kg blokes to smash into each other once again. I’m not sure that is right.
“But, we built character in those final stages at Castleford and come the later rounds of Super League, the Cup or the Playoffs, we can reflect on those moments.”
This Saturday’s Fourth Round match at Widnes will be Saints first taste of the Cup comp this season and the infamous iPitch.
“I think all the furore over the surface has gone now and we’re looking forward to the match,” Rush said. “It will be a very tough game and we are preparing to take on the team that beat Wigan recently. The Challenge Cup is massive for us. Every overseas player comes here with the dream of doing it and it’s the same for the local boys too.”