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St Helens coach Nathan Brown expects Huddersfield Giants to be formidable in the middle
NEW Saints boss Nathan Brown could have been forgiven for doing his video previewing of Saturday’s opposition blindfolded.
He did, after all, oversee many of that team’s consolidation in the first team during his four years in charge of Huddersfield.
And knowing what he does, he anticipates the beefed up Giants to present a formidable hurdle in his first competitive game in charge at Langtree Park.
• Eorl Crabtree is among the players Brown will be familiar with
Although Saints nilled the Claret and Golds in the trial game three weeks ago, that was against a team missing big men Eorl Crabtree, Stuart Fielden, Luke O’Donnell and Ukuma Ta’ai.
Not all of those will play, with Ta’ai only just being given his visa, but Giants also have Larne Patrick and new signing Craig Kopczak, who played in the friendly at Saints.
The Huddersfield heavy mob will certainly test Saints’ men in the middle on Saturday.
Brown said: “If you have got a big side that plays a certain style of footy you need those big guys to play. Huddersfield are going to be pretty formidable through that middle part of the field.
“It is the start of the year, first game at home and we want to get it off to a positive start. Huddersfield will want to get off to a good start themselves.”
In terms of team news, Brown said there will be no big surprises in the squad.
Based on the last friendly against Wakefield, the only issue to resolve was whether Ade Gardner or Tommy Makinson will get the right wing spot.
- Tommy Makinson - it appears a choice between the youngster and Ade Gardner for a wing spot
As for the bench, the two big men that don’t start from Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Josh Perry, Tony Puletua and Anthony Laffranchi will probably join Lance Hohaia, with Mark Flanagan probably in there to give respite to the back row, rather than another big man in Alex Walmsley.
- Gary Wheeler - will get his chance in the coming weeks
It shows the early selection headaches Brown has, with all bar Adam Swift fit.
“We have got competition for spots, although Gary wheeler and Paul Clough missed a little bit of pre-season that set them back a little bit but the rest of the other guys have competed in the freindlies.
“A lot of players have been jockeying for spots – whether they are young or old. Gar Wheeler and Paul Clough will get their chance, in two, three or four weeks. We have got a squad that contains 21 or 22 blokes who would consider themselves regular Super League players and some younger players.
“Our squad was cut back to 20, this week it will be cut to 19 but our squad will take care of itself and there won’t be any real surprises in there.”