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Jon Wilkin to remain Saints' seven for the season
SAINTS boss Nathan Brown has confirmed that back rower Jon Wilkin will remain at scrum half for the rest of the season as part of the changes that have seen Jonny Lomax installed at full back and Paul Wellens moved into the pack.
Although a forward by trade Wilkin has provided stability, leadership and direction to the halves in the three games he has played there, particularly last week at Warrington.
And with Lance Hohaia impressing on his return to the number six shirt, Brown expects the new axis of the team to improve the more they play together as the season progresses.
Brown said “Jon Wilkin can stay at scrum half for the year. He is the type of player we need for that position at this club.
“That might not be the case for Warrington or a Wigan but it is what suits this team the best.
“He has a certain skillset that we need there and has shown in his limited time there that he has definitely given the team some stability.
“The other day was a high pressure match and in certain key parts of the game between him, Robes, Jonny and Lance they more often than not seemed to manufacture the right type of things to do with the combination of four people.
“One of Jon’s great strengths is that he helps out those people who don’t have that strength. Putting the right people on the right seat on the bus is important and it seems to work well for the team.
“Since we have had Wilko at half and Jonny at full back we feel like our attack has done reasonably well over that three week period and that should continue to improve.”
The changes will raise questions long term and will no doubt flag up that Saints will probably now be in the market to unearth a scrum half. Given that available seasoned number sevens are as rare as hen’s teeth that will be a task in itself.
In the meantime Saints will put their faith in Wilkin and Hohaia.
If Friday’s game is a measure that faith won’t be misplaced with the Kiwi international World Cup winner showing some neat touches and providing some steadiness to Saints’ play – also producing the best kicking game from those wearing the red vee.
Brown said: “Lance did well. He has a lot of experience and he definitely gave the team a bit of control at times when we needed it in key parts of the game.
“He helped the team out a lot, not necessarily when he had the ball but what he did when he did not have it also.
“His touch was good and the more he plays with the players in these positions the better he will get. He has a nice kicking game and puts a beautiful weight on it with an ability to stop the ball in the corner.”