Saints won't be taking wounded Dragons lightly

St Helens Star: Jon Wilkin scores against Hull KR Jon Wilkin scores against Hull KR

TABLE-topping Saints will be taking no notice of the ‘Catalan Dragons in meltdown’ stories ahead of Friday’s encounter at Langtree Park.

Having so painfully come unstuck twice at home to the Frenchmen this past two seasons, Nathan Brown’s men will not be rubbing their hands at the winless Dragons’ current state of turmoil, simply expecting to cash in.

But on the face of it, it does look like a good time to play the Dragons, who this week saw the squad recalled back to Perpignan for crisis talks after Sunday’s 56-14 defeat at Wakefield.

Although the coaching staff have been given the vote of confidence, experienced prop Jamal Fakir has been dropped to the reserves and Brent Webb must undergo tests to prove his fitness.

Added to the Dragons injuries, they have lost durable forward Louis Anderson to suspension.

But ‘beware the wounded Dragon’ may be the message hammered out at the Saints Cowley training pitch this week.

A quick glance down the players still on the Catalan teamsheet underlines that. It is something Brown stressed: “All we can do is look at the players they have.

“It is unfortunate the amount of players that they have not been able to use.

“The likes of Scott Dureau and Ian Henderson are a big miss to any team.

“We can only look at the ones that are coming.

“They have a number of forwards in particular who have achieved in both countries – Jeff Lima, Zeb Taia and Lopini Paea and a number of those French blokes with a lot of experience.

“We can only prepare for what is coming – and although it is not at full strength, it is nonetheless a very capable team.”

Among them is the familiar face of former Saints Lance Todd winner Leon Pryce. And on the flanks they have some speed in the nippy Morgan Escare. Saints lost 22-12 to a Steve Menzies-inspired Dragons team last April.

And the year before the Dragons did for Saints - and effectively for former boss Royce Simmons - with a last-gasp after the hooter touchdown.

And in stark contrast to the Catalan woes, Saints go into this game in much better shape and, despite the odd lapse in concentration, they are looking good value for their lofty position. But Brown is drumming in the need for his players to remain committed.

“The reality is that if we don’t play well we have a chance of losing any given week.

“The players Catalan have make them a top six team.

“We can’t control what Catalan are thinking and how fit they are, but we can control our how committed we are and if we get that and our game right then we should provide stern opposition for them.”

Apart from Mark Percival, who is expected to be out for a maximum of two more games, Saints are fully fit. Mose Masoe will continue, but Brown does have options to bring in an extra forward for the bench to compensate for his lack of fitness.

Josh Jones, who has been playing back row, could move to centre and that would allow Anthony Laffranchi to come back into the 17 after his quietly industrious opening three games to the year.

Squad: 1. Jonny Lomax, 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Jordan Turner, 4. Josh Jones, 5. Adam Swift, 6. Lance Hohaia, 7. Luke Walsh, 8. Mose Masoe, 9. James Roby, 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 11. Sia Soliola, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Willie Manu, 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 16. Kyle Amor, 17. Paul Wellens, 18. Alex Walmsley, 25. Anthony Walker, 27. Greg Richards.

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