Saints Aim For KR Success

SAINTS will be aiming to secure their first league win at Hull KR for nine seasons when the sides meet this Friday.

Keiron Cunningham came off the bench and scored a try in a 40-0 win back in June 2007 – the last time two points were secured in East Hull.

A cup win followed in 2008, as did a draw in 2012, but it’s fair to say Saints’ record on the Robins’ turf isn’t the best.

“It is something you can look at but it is, and has to be, a fresh slate every time you go,” he said. “Our challenge as a team and a club is to be ready for every game regardless of whatever the team you are facing is doing. We have to focus on our own performance.

“Hull KR weren’t too good against Warrington but were unlucky to lose against Wakefield. They threw a lot at them.

“The Roosters game gave us a shot in the arm because we physically matched it with one of the best packs in the world. I saw a twinkle in the eye of the forwards here because it showed they are as good as we think they are. Now we have to get the rest right.

“If we take that physicality into the game then we won’t be far off, but we have to be more clinical with the ball.”

Saints have a few bumps and bruises heading into the clash – but have time on their side according to Cunningham.

Alex Walmsley suffered a clash of heads and will be monitored through the week whilst Roby, Lomax and McDonnell are continuing to improve.

“Robes is coming close to the point where we will have to have a shot with him and see how he goes in training,” Keiron said. “But he is a player who will feature heavily in what we do as a club going forward. We all want him back but for the sake of a week or two it would be foolish to try and push him too soon.

“He is a super athlete and one of the best players ever to pull on a Saints shirt but he has to right before returning.

“Jonny is a candidate for March whilst Shannon is not far off at all. He will be back soon enough and is training with us. We have to get some metres in his legs first and then he will be good to go.

“I am confident this is the best squad we have had for a long period of time. It has strength in depth. In the past if we had lost James Roby then we couldn’t bring anything in. It was the same if we had lost a six. We can do that now. We can use Travis Burns at 9 and young Theo Fages is waiting for his chance. Then you have Morgan Knowles too. They will all contribute largely to what we hope will be a successful season.

“We haven’t just got a top end and scraping around for kids, there is good quality throughout.

“Theo just has to bide his time. It is all about education for him at the moment. He is the future of the club; a young half back who has a massive future ahead of him and he will be at Saints for a long period of time. At the minute he is learning and when he gets the chance he will take it with open arms.

“That is the same for Jack Owens. One position we were light in last year was full back. We needed about 18 last season and he has filled in grandly. It he wasn’t here then we would be scraping the barrel. He is only a baby and will be a gem for us going forward.

“He might look a little out of sorts at times but we are educating him every week. Now our job is to make him into the mature professional we know he is going to be.

“In the end we have to try and pick the best possible team for the job. Hopefully, we can get some stability and roll forward.”

A lot of pundits have had their say following the World Club Series and the three defeats suffered by English sides.

Saints fared better in terms of the scoreline than Leeds or Wigan, but that is no consolation to Cunningham.

“Obviously I would have liked it to have gone better on Friday,” he said. “Long term it won’t affect us but it would have been a nice nut to crack. Physically we got it right but the difference against the Aussies is you need to get all aspects right.

“The difference is Salary Cap, pool of players and quality. The cap will be twice or three times bigger than ours when it is updated soon. The pool of players they can draw from is larger too and as a result the quality is better. They can attract the best players from all over the world and are even looking at our top players.

“That said, I think the concept of the series is brilliant. As a sport if you look at where our headline games are, it isn’t at international level. The game is built on club rugby.

“If you look at when we played Brisbane all those years back, salary cap wise both leagues weren’t that far apart. If we could have had this concept back then it could have worked better.

“It seems like it is hurting us now but I do like the spectacle. Club rugby is our bread and butter, and the concept is right but perhaps it is 10-15 years too late. We can build on it though.

“We are working hard as a club as is Blake Solly and his team at the RFL.”

Tickets for the games against Castleford, Wakefield and Wigan are now on sale – as are ‘specs’ for our trip to Hull KR on Friday.

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

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