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Players must separate the rugby from the occasion on a night full of emotion
FORMER Saints and Hull FC full back Steve Prescott was an inspiration to so many people that Friday’s game will be an emotional occasion for players, fans and staff from both clubs.
A big crowd is expected to pack out Langtree Park for this first meeting between Steve’s two former clubs since his death in November.
Although tributes will be paid to the amazing cancer battler and charity fundraiser before the game, the players will have to put that emotion to one side come 8pm.
It is probably easier said than done, with Steve having played alongside some of the Hull players and worked alongside a lot of youngsters and staff at Saints.
Although paying his respects to Steve’s memory and legacy, coach Nathan Brown said his job is to separate the game from the occasion.
Brown said: “I made the point from the players point of view that regardless of the occasion they have got a job to do and that is to collect two league points – to separate the rugby from it.
“Steve did a lot for the town and for a broad range of people.
“A lot of people will have read about what Steve was diagnosed with and then what he went to achieve. He created hope and inspired people.”
Aside from the two league points, both teams will be playing for the Steve Prescott Cup which will be decided over two legs, home and away.
Saints will go into the game with some confidence after destroying one of the competition’s favourites on their own midden last Thursday.
But Brown expects his side to improve some facets of that Warrington game against a Hull side that has a remarkable record in St Helens in recent years.
Hull are a much-changed side from last season and with Lee Radford in charge, the Black and Whites will be fired up.
They have a beefed up pack, too, with Garreth Carvell joining via Bradford, packing down with former Robin Mickey Paea and a slimmed down Feka Paleaaesina.
Saints’ pack that hammered the Wolves six will have to be on their mettle again this week as they seek to fulfil the anticipation that is coursing through the veins of the fans at the moment.
Brown has highlighted some Hull strengths, particularly the offload game of the big men and the support from Aaron Heremaia and Jamie Shaul.
But many will look at the duel at half back after Hull’s Jordan Rankin caught the eye in their win over Catalan.
The game kicks off at 8pm, it is not televised and a massive following is anticipated from Hull so a big crowd is expected to see Langtree Park rocking.