Saints Eye Strong Finish

NATHAN Brown says he is confident Saints’ new structures will pay dividends as they head into the back end of the season.

The loss of Luke Walsh and a number of other half back options has forced the head coach to look at how they play with different players in key positions.

“The break has been beneficial for us as we’ve had some good training days,” he said. “We have lost a number of players in key positions so we’ve had to look at the way we play. To be honest, having a weekend off has meant we can look at our structures and move people from some different positions to give us a better opportunity of doing well.

“We have made some adjustments to what we are doing. What we have in place suits the people we have and we are expecting an improved performance on the Hull game. We have to go into each game and compete hard.

“After what happened in the previous couple of weeks with the loss of players we were flat in the Hull game and didn’t turn up with a good enough attitude, nor play well enough, and the way we played probably didn’t suit who we had in key positions.

“It was the way the cards fell and we didn’t really have time to do anything new. But we feel that some of the things we have put in place will help the people we have in those positions. The guys seem to have bought into it and if we turn up this week with a good attitude we will give ourselves a good shot.”

He continues: “Lance Hohaia will come back this season but he’s not quite right at present and we can’t afford to risk him.

“When you lose a half back or 5/8 you can normally replace like for like but you don’t expect them to be all out at the same time. Wigan have depth in their halves like we did a few years ago with Matty Smith, Kyle Eastmond and Jonny Lomax.

“Now we have a good young player in Dave Hewitt but he is not quite ready to play Super League yet. We have lost Wilko and Jonny and they were back-ups too but that is where we are as a squad. We knew that coming into the year and were comfortable with it but you don’t expect them all to be out at the same time. It’s unfortunate, but we have to make the best of it we can.

“We are looking at play-making options for next season and looking far and wide. Dave Hewitt is training with the squad and we hope he will develop over pre-season to give us another option, but we are looking for a more experienced option too. The injuries to Walsh and Lomax will take time to get over, so bringing in another experienced one would take the pressure off those guys.

“We have done things to make sure we work together, but it won’t work if we don’t compete as a group of 17 people. That is the challenge for us now and we have to see how far it will take us. We have made some drastic changes and the guys have responded really well in training.

“What we did before worked and that is why we are at the top of the table. What we are doing now we are confident, I am confident, the staff are too and the players seem to be buying into it as well. That is important as it will take the right commitment and effort to be successful.”

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