Saints Balanced For 2016

KEIRON Cunningham says his squad is perfectly balanced ahead of the new campaign – and pre-season training has enhanced his opinion.

Speaking as he prepares for Sunday’s warm-up with Dewsbury Rams, he is confident Saints can compete on all fronts in 2016.

“Pre-season has been good,” he said. “We tried to mix it up at little and get away from the usual environment. I’ve been promising the boys some sunny weather training for a while now so the least I could do was take them to the Lakes and Plymouth! Rivington Pike was grim too.

“At this time of the year, we’re not interrupted by the week to week playing of games. That means we can get information into the younger players and get people fit and healthy. We’re as happy as we can be, but the gauge will be round one.

“We have thickened the squad as much as we can, within the salary cap, and are happy with our signings. We have a good balance and you’ll see the next batch come through – the likes of Morgan Knowles, Ricky Bailey and Jack Ashworth. Jack has had a big pre-season and looks like a man. We’re expecting big things of him.

“Calvin Wellington and Regan Grace are progressing too but they are long term projects. In the wrestle hall they look like first teamers but in the gym they look like boys. We are working hard to get some strength into them.”

He continued: “We’ve had some surgeries in pre-season which set a couple of the lads back. Adam Swift had his shoulder done and Alex Walmsley has had some grumbles but we’re hoping he can play in the last trial game.

“I have no timeframe for Jonny Lomax. The surgeon said it would be 12 months – but he will be ready when he is ready. He won’t play at the start of the season. Shannon McDonnell won’t be ready also but is getting there. He had a lot of issues with his scar site and infections but is now back running.

“Luckily, we’ve signed Jack Owens. He has run at fullback all pre-season. He is someone we have followed for a while and I am shocked Widnes let him go. He’s been impressive.

“Both our wingers haven’t done a lot of pre-season with us so to run with one of those at fullback instead would have been daft. Luckily, Jack is available and he looks great.”

Saints other three new signings have also been going well as Keiron explains.

“Dominique Peyroux has been training at centre and has been brilliant,” he continued. “Because of injuries we have been running with Mark Percival on the wing, Jordan Turner at centre and a bit of 6 with Theo Fages at half and nine also. It’s good to have them all available and it gives us plenty of options.

“Theo has been superb for us. He has a great sense of humour, trains hard and has fit straight into the standards we have here. He is a tough half back who can also play in the middle and that is valuable.

“We can’t keep running James Roby into the ground. He is one of our biggest assets and when he played for England you could see how fresh he looked playing in spells. He won’t like it (to be spelled) but Theo fits that bill as do the young players who have trained well.

“Lama Tasi is a different animal all together. He is mobile and we want to be more mobile this year. Both our back rowers are mobile too. He is mature beyond his years and it’s fair to saw Andre Savelio has kicked on under him too.

“Lama is a big man who will play big minutes and have a big impact.”

Saints went close last season – falling short in two semi-finals – and are keen to go better this time around.

Sights are set firmly on trophies at Langtree Park.

“We have learnt a lot from the losses last season,” Keiron said. “As a group you have to reflect on that. You don’t want to live with ifs or buts. The worst thing when you finish in October is you have all that time to think about those moments until the season starts again.

“We were close in both semi-finals. Then you think if we had picked up a couple more results here and there it could have been different.

“We want to win trophies, that is a given. We want to be in the top four at the end of the season and in with a chance of every trophy. We can’t live off what happened last season because we know how different things could have been.

“I am confident about the ability of the squad. We are 12 months more mature too and I’m sure we can do something this year.”

Cunningham indicated he will run with a big squad this Sunday to give him a chance to look at the new players and youngsters.

“We will start with a strong team and then mix and match as the game progresses.”

Saints will take on Dewsbury Rams in a friendly at Langtree Park on Sunday January 17 (3pm).

Tickets are priced at £10 (adult), £8 (concession and 16-21) and £5 (junior) in both the Hatton’s Solicitors West & Solarking South Stands.

You can buy your tickets from the Ticket Office at Langtree Park, by calling 01744 455 052 or online here.

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