NATHAN Brown is comfortable with the progress Saints have made in pre-season and is looking forward to a good campaign.
And he believes the experience of 2013 will make his side – especially the younger players – much stronger.
“Pre-season has been good,” the Head Coach said. “We have made some subtle changes and there has been an increase of younger players at training – those that came in last year and those who are now part of the first team squad. That has been exciting and we have a squad that has a good chance of being successful.
“We are comfortable with the recruits we have made. Like all sides, whether you run first, fifth or eighth, you want to improve your squad. If you stand still someone will go past you. We have made some signings that can help complement and improve our squad. They are also good people too and that is really important.”
Saints handed debuts to 13 players last season and whilst some of those were enforced due to a significant injury list, Brown says a number warranted a spot because of their hard work in training.
“We will certainly benefit from a year like last,” he continued. “This year we’d like to think that the likes of Adam Swift, Mark Percival, Greg Richards and Alex Walmsley for example should continue to improve.
“All the young kids who debuted have gone really well in pre-season. They have all shown good signs of improvement. Physically, they are stronger and bigger and their fitness is better too. They have added parts to their game and now the next challenge is seeing that happen on the field.
“The kids who played last year have a lot of talent and contributed well at the time… and sometimes struggled… but that is all part of being young. We would hope they improve a fair bit this year and the proof will be over the coming season but we are excited. They have given themselves a good chance by having a good pre-season and have done everything asked of them.”
Optimism is high at Saints ahead of the Super League opener at Warrington on February 13 and Langtree Park’s ‘bow’ on February 21 against Hull FC.
Not only has the club signed five players but there’s enough momentum from the back end of last season to carry forward.
“The back third of last year was quite good I thought,” Brown added. “We won 10 from 12 only losing to Warrington when they were a little better in the first 15 minutes and then when we lost 11-10 to Leeds. That was a great game of football and we were unlucky not to get something from it.
“People tend to think though if you bring in new signings you can automatically start playing well again. But these new players need to bed into the culture of the club. Last year that culture helped to hold the squad together and it’s important the young players coming up realise that.
“The new players who have come in also need to understand the history of the club and the commitment the players of the past have made for its success. If we get that right then we can perform well.”
He continued: “There’s always expectation around a club like this. I worked at the Dragons in the NRL and there is no more expectation than any club in the NRL than the Dragons. The fans are passionate and even when we weren’t going so well a lot of they supported us by coming to the games. Our away support was nothing short of brilliant.
“With the history here the fans don’t expect success, they demand it. That helps the club be what it is. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else to be honest.”
Saints will kick off their Super League campaign with a trip to Warrington on Thursday February 13 before hosting Hull FC eight days later in a blockbusting Langtree Park opener.
Before then Nathan Brown’s men take on Batley (January 24) and Wigan (January 31) in pre-season friendlies.
To buy tickets for these matches click here or pop into the Ticket Office at Langtree Park.