Justin Holbrook is hoping Saints’ pre-season hard work will bring the consistency they require to be successful in 2018.
The off-season has seen the head coach and his staff put the players through a gruelling schedule that has seen increased ball work and fitness.
“We were building quite nicely as the season went on in 2017,” he said. “Now we have to be consistent from the start. To get that extra home game in the Super 8s, and then finish in the top two and get a home semi-final, is a huge advantage.
“Even if that is through less travel then it is a big bonus – but it is something we have to earn through consistency and that is what we have to work on this season.
“All the boys are back in now after the World Cup and although we haven’t had them here for a long time I’m using their experience as a positive.
“It was good not just for England but for the likes of Morgan Knowles and Regan Grace with Wales and the more experienced players like Theo Fages with France and Luke Douglas with Scotland.
“It is good for the players to experience that whatever the stage of their career. It is good for them to get out and experience different coaches and teammates.
“Of course, it means we don’t get those players in here for as long as the rest of the squad, but the reason they played in the World Cup is that they were the best in their country. We can use that as a positive.”
One player all eyes will be on in 2018 is Ben Barba.
The former Dally M winner played five times for Saints last season giving fans a glimpse of what he can do.
“It was hard on Ben in the back half of the year and I did feel sorry for him a little bit,” Justin added. “He came from Rugby Union but wasn’t playing and I had to throw him in the deep end. If he would’ve had more games then I would have brought him off the bench and built him up but we didn’t have that luxury.
“He had to play 80 from the off and was a little rusty. Now, he’s had a pre-season and we have big hopes for him. He’s fitted in nicely and we’re hoping for him to have a big year.”
Tickets for Saints’ Betfred Super League opener against Castleford Tigers on Friday February 2 (7:45pm) are now on sale.
To secure yours, call into the Ticket Office at the Totally Wicked Stadium, via 01744 455 052 or online here.