KC Focused On Task

KEIRON Cunningham says there will be no resting on laurels when Saints face Castleford this Thursday.

Fresh from the storming win over Wigan they travel to the Tigers to take on a side that is bang in form.

And whilst Saints will be bolstered by returning players, Cunningham wants the full focus on be on their opponents – and not what they have achieved over recent weeks.

“We look healthy heading into the game,” he said. “Some of the boys played with a virus on Friday which took a lot of out of them, but we have recovered well and should be healthy this week.

“Castleford are playing really well and have won some big games recently. We will have to be very good when we go there.

“They are a team in form and on the rise. They were written off at the start of the year – with the players they lost – but Daryl (Powell) is too smart a coach to let that happen. He has the right balance in his squad and Ben Roberts at full-back has been a revelation. Great coaches always get the best out of their players.

“We are looking forward to it. We have picked up some good wins over the last few weeks but we can’t rest on our laurels. Our last win is a short-lived one, it has been put to bed now and we are concentrating on Thursday.

“We’re in a good spot but things can turn ugly very quickly. We have to ride our fortune and pick up points on the way.

“And we should be able to drip a few of our injured players back in shortly.”

He continued: “The youngsters were brilliant on Friday and to be fair they have come under scrutiny this season especially after winning the Grand Final. We hit a rough patch earlier in the season with some of them too.

“Greg Richards has improved out of sight and I thought he was great on Friday. Andre Savelio was sensational and almost game changing when he came on. We will keep on working with him every week to make him the complete player.

“They have potential but it’s how we nurture them, bring them through, give them the correct game time and play them in the correct position. When we get some of our players back then I will be able to rest them when they need it and play them when they need it too.

“We pride ourselves on our youth system and that is what we have done for a long time here. As a group of coaches we work religiously with the youth all the time and do a lot of video with them. We want them to come into the first team as close to the finished product as possible.

“It’s taxing for the coaches, but that is what we do and it helps the transition a lot – and the under 19s are going well too.

“There will be a couple of names on the teamsheet this week that we haven’t seen for a while – and a few headaches for me in terms of team selection. They will freshen up the squad too so we won’t be using the short turnaround as an excuse.

“We will miss one session this week and we have recovered and trained well. There will be one more before the game and we will be ready to go.”

In his weekly press conference Keiron also responded to rumours that he is in line to sign Theo Fages.

“He’s under contract isn’t he?” he retorted, “and besides we have Luke Walsh, Travis Burns and Jon Wilkin who can fill in comfortably at half back.

“Theo is a super kid who has a big future and I’m sure there is a lot of interest around him.

“But I have too much below the first team to make a play for him. Rob Fairclough and Danny Richardson for instance – he is on the radar to do something in the next two years I feel.

“I will bring players in because we are losing some. Perhaps two or three more, but it depends on finances and who we retain. I would imagine none of those would be top line – Lama Tasi is probably our biggest. We will also have good juniors coming in but I will need to fill some gaps.

“I have said before that I would never use the marquee player money to sign an overseas player. It goes against my ethics as a home grown player and a coach.

“We have an abundance of talent in the 19s and I believe home grown players should get the money.”

Saints are next at Langtree Park when they take on Widnes Vikings in the Challenge Cup Quarter Final on Sunday June 28 (4pm). You can buy tickets here.

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