SAINTS boss Nathan Brown talks cup draw, injuries and Mose Masoe with the Star’s senior sports writer Mike Critchley.
MC: Given the injuries, you could have done without the cup draw being so tough?
NB: A week ago everything was rosy and everyone was fit, but this is rugby league and sport is like that. The reality is that we have a squad there that is playing with confidence and we have a lot of belief in ourselves.
We have got a tough draw, but Huddersfield have got a tough draw, too.
MC: Does that Challenge Cup tie jump up amidst the next run of fixtures and demand a different approach?
NB: There is no way you can hide from it, is there? The fact is that two good teams, who would have expected to have gone on a long cup run, are meeting so early in the tournament.
Some teams have drawn a league two side and the way they plan their next fixtures will be a lot different to what St Helens do.
The reality is this week we play Wakefield who are attacking very well and then Leeds, who I think are the team to beat. And then we go into Huddersfield.
It means our preparation and warm-up going into the Huddersfield game is going to be great because of what we are playing now.
MC: There is more promising news on Sia’s injury?
NB: Sia has a good chance of playing this week, but if he is not 100 per cent he won’t be playing.
The thing with Sia is that he missed the pre season, had the World Cup and then had a knee injury. If you watch his game, he has started to build into some good form. We would like him to play, because the more he plays the better he gets. His form in the last two games in particular has been great.
MC: Most Saints fans reading the news on Luke Walsh will have had their heads in their hands, but there is an upbeat response from the club. Do coaches have to be optimists?
NB: I think everyone is realistic. Luke Walsh is over here for a reason but lot of other people are playing a part in our success. And I know the boys are feeling confident playing with Wilko at 7. Wilko did a good job there at seven last year and I am sure he will do a good job there again.
MC: You wouldn’t wish for injuries but with a strong roster some players will be grabbing their chance?
NB: Mark Flanagan is a good Super League player, Anthony Walker and Greg Richards are going to be better this year than last because they have played and trained with us and know what is required. Anthony has been a stand out for Rochdale and Greg is far too good for our 19s now. They have developed into far better players.
MC: It was sod’s law that the first week you don’t put a back on the bench you lose an outside back in the first 20.
NB: We had Jonesy starting in the centres, so Sia filled in more than adequately for Jordan Turner. Then when Sia got injured it left us short there but Larney (Lance Hohaia) can play there. That is one of the great things about Larney, he can slot into lots of positions.
MC: Is Kyle Amor expecting a response from his former club?
NB: I think they will appreciate what he did for them. It was not that Kyle wanted to leave Wakefield, it was that they went into administration and people have mortgages and families. St Helens and a number of clubs went to Kyle and his agent and said if you are not staying there, you may as well come to us.
Wakefield’s fans will appreciate why he left and the service he gave them. He is a likeable bloke and last year he had a great game against us and our fans were talking about him then. With his hair and his beard, he gets people talking. He has a bit of a cult following.
MC: One of the positives from last weekend’s game was it meant Mose Masoe HAD to play longer minutes?
NB: It was good. He played longer than we expected him to play at this stage. He not only played the minutes, but he was also very effective for us, that will help him this week and that will then help him next week.
That is important because these are pretty big weeks, not just because of the league points, but the lead up to the cup as well.
The pleasing thing was that he was defensively sound. The challenge for Mose from the staff is to get a little bit better each week,