WHEN the new season starts, Saints will be one of just four Super League clubs running a reserve team.
The Club sees it as vital for the retention of players in the sport.
Saints alongside Wigan, Hull FC and Warrington will join Keighley, Halifax, Sheffield, Dewsbury and Featherstone in playing fixtures.
And it’s a move Keiron Cunningham is more than happy with.
“I’m really pleased the reserves are back for the new season,” he said. “It takes away that black hole and stops us losing talent when players reach 19.
“We’re in a situation where you can go out, recruit and nurture a player and then by the age of 19 if they aren’t a superstar you have to let them go. That is a ridiculous situation.
“We can now look at kids until they are 21 or 22. Not everyone is a superstar by 19… you only have to look at the likes of Mike Bennett and even James Roby. We could have lost them under the current system.
“You spend a lot of time and finance getting a player through the system; it’s hard work and to then say thank you very much, you’re gone, at 19, is ridiculous.”
He continued: “The move to bring back reserves was championed by Mike Rush. He got everything going and teams jumped on board. The game will be stronger for sure.”
Keiron says that Saints’ Reserves are likely to be top age players from the 19s Academy, first teamers who are not getting regular football and those returning from injury.
There could also be lower age players in the Academy who could make the step up.
“It’s common sense,” he added. “We will reap the rewards and I’m sure it won’t take 12 months before the league does it as a whole.
“They will see it was successful and then take up the idea as their own.”
Ian Talbot will be the head coach of the reserves, assisted by Paul Wellens and Tommy Martyn.
Sunday Jan 31: Swinton (A) – 3pm (Friendly)
Saturday Feb 13: Wigan (H) – 12pm
Saturday March 5: Hull FC (H) – 1pm
Thursday March 10: Keighley (A) – 7.45pm
Thursday March 31: Halifax (A) – 7.30pm
Saturday April 16: Warrington (A) – 12pm
Saturday May 7: Warrington (H) – 12pm
Sunday May 22: Wigan (A) – TBC
Saturday May 28: Hull FC (A) – 5.20pm
Saturday June 11: Sheffield (H) – 1pm
Saturday June 25: Wigan (H) – 12pm
Saturday July 9: Dewsbury (H) – 1pm
Saturday July 30: Warrington (H) – 12pm
Saturday August 13: Hull FC (H) – 1pm
Sunday September 11: Featherstone (A) – 7.30pm
Please note fixtures are subject to change.