Emphasis On Start

KEIRON Cunningham admits he has a few selection issues heading into this Friday’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Semi Final – but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

His relatively healthy squad face Leeds Rhinos at the Halliwell Jones Stadium for the chance to head to Wembley.

“I have a few headaches this week,” he said. “A lot will pick themselves but it will be difficult to make a call in the middles. There will be a few broken hearts this week.

“We came through the Hull KR game unscathed; a couple of guys have a touch of flu but on the whole we seem very healthy.

“We know we need to start well and that is our biggest emphasis. On both occasions we have played Leeds – especially the second – we had enough chances to ‘restart our start’ but failed to take them.

“We are happy with where we are as a team and won’t do anything special for this game but we have to carry over what we have done well in the last two games.”

Saints head into the match on the back of good wins over Warrington and Hull KR – and they have come on the back of solid starts and the form of their half back duo.

“Luke Walsh and Travis Burns are going well in the halves and I’m really pleased with them,” Keiron continued. “James Roby will come back in too. Considering we were missing him and Jon Wilkin last week I thought Walshy and Burns let the team around well.

“You get a feeling when players are going to do well and I had that with Walsh last week – and so it proved. He captained the side well.

“Leeds are packed with danger men. You can pick a number they are all great players and would probably walk into any side. They have strike across the park too and have had the wood over us this season. I have no doubt they will head into the tie confident but we should too. We are playing well and if we play as well as we did against Hull KR then we will give ourselves a chance.

“The teams that have beaten Leeds this year have hung on in there for the opening 20 minutes and then took their chances. It goes without saying – we need to start well.

“It anything our last two meetings should have given us a warning. We know what they are capable of. They like disruptive games and can score from all over the field.”

He continued: “I was fortunate enough to win the Challenge Cup seven times. Perhaps back then we took it for granted that we would always be there and in with a chance. If you haven’t been there for a while you kinda think that you should be – but it isn’t as easy as that.

“We are in a good spot but ‘good’ isn’t enough for this club. It would be nice to get there and lift the cup but we have the small matter of taking on the best team in the comp this Friday first.”

Tickets for Friday’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Semi Final are on sale from the Ticket Office, by calling 01744 455 052 or online here.

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