Saints To Deal With Adversity

NO matter what the line-ups, where it is played or the game’s magnitude there’s no getting away from the ferocity that is the derby.

Saints will travel to Wigan on Good Friday as the two old adversaries lock horns once again.

Nearly 5,000 Saints fans will back the champions at the DW Stadium and head coach Keiron Cunningham can’t wait for the challenge the Warriors will present.

“There is always a lot of emotion around these games and I’m sure Shaun Wane will have his crew charging,” he said. “We are excited about the game and I’m sure it will be a great spectacle.

“Form doesn’t normally matter in this one nor who is playing. I was part of a full strength Saints side that lost to a weak Wigan on years back and vice versa. We’re all looking forward to it.

“The mathematics around it shows it is for two points – that is all it counts for. We know it’s different for some families as there are bragging rights. That said, we want to win.

“As a St Helens lad I would look out for this game and try to get to as many as possible. They are always great spectacles and the rights given by Lord Derby to call it a derby show its importance. It will be good viewing.

“We won’t prepare any differently, in fact it’s probably easier for coaches as they do their jobs and the players get themselves up for the game. It’s the same for any big game – a Warrington or Leeds for example.”

Saints will have a number of players missing for the clash and will once again call on the resilience that saw them pick up the Super League title – against Wigan – last year.

Atelea Vea suffered a shoulder injury at Hull KR and will have more tests this week to determine how best to manage the problem. It is likely he will be unavailable for several months.

Travis Burns will also be missing for some time too with several facial issues including a triple fracture of the cheekbone.

Jonny Lomax will undergo exploratory surgery to find out the extent of his knee problem and the prognosis is he will be out for nine months.

James Roby, Paul Wellens and Joe Greenwood are set to have late fitness tests this week to determine whether they can factor in the Good Friday clash.

Keiron continued: “We were the better side at Hull KR for large periods of the game and rolled them quite easily but we weren’t on the money with our good ball attack.

“We weren’t smart at times and had enough chances to be in a comfortable lead within the first stages of the game. We didn’t and Hull took their chances. We will learn from that.

“Wigan are nearly there and nearly rolled Leeds at Leeds. Shaun Wane is going through transition with injuries like other teams and they look like they are playing differently. They have had a lot of success playing one way and are now evolving.

“It’s hardly ideal going into such a big game without Walsh, Burns, Lomax, Percival and Vea, and with doubts over Roby, Greenwood and Wellens. It’s not just the number of injuries but the class of player missing in key positions.

“However, this group of players have proven that they know how to deal with adversity, even on the biggest of occasions.”

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