SAINTS boss Nathan Brown looked ahead to the visit of cock-a-hoop Widnes on Friday, in conversation with the Star’s senior sports writer Mike Critchley.
MC: Much of Saturday was pleasing and the flurry of late points sent people away happy.
NB: We came out of the Bradford game where we were disappointed the way we finished.
Against London we started well, had a little dip for a bit and then came home strong. We wanted to improve on the week before, which we did, so now it is about improving on that this week.
We had a strong last 15 minutes, which was the key for us because we had such a poor finish to the game the week before.
The key was about improving and getting some positives out of the game, which we did.
MC: Sia’s long-range try was something special, wasn’t it?
NB: When he first went through he looked for his support and then he realised that they were not going to catch him, so he wound the clock back to his younger days in the centres.
MC: You must have been pleased with the travelling support?
NB: It was sensational – brilliant. I couldn’t believe it. We always get good travelling support at St Helens. The boys really appreciate it and the fans saw some nice tries in return. Hopefully we can back it up again this week.
MC: Widnes will bounce into this game after that result against Warrington?
NB: Denis Betts has put together a group of blokes who work hard for each other and compete hard.
And off the back of that they have Kevin Brown and Rhys Hanbury who are quite classy.
Joe Mellor is certainly developing – and they have experience in Jon Clarke in that middle of the field.
If they get on top in that middle of the field their key players can really cause you trouble.
Kev has more try assists than any other player in the competition – one of the best players in Super League. And off the back of that Hanbury sees a lot of room and he’s a good player.
MC: Kevin Brown has a fair skillset and a fair boot on him too?
NB: I worked with Kev at Huddersfield for four years so know better than most about his skillset. He is one of a few halves who can create and make room for other people with their passing game. He has settled in well at Widnes and justified the big fee they paid him.
MC: Unusually Widnes are after a double here after Easter Monday?
NB: They are, but we would like to think that we are going to give them something to think about.
The last few games we have got better and some of our players have been back and played a number of games now.
There are a few who are beginning to stroll back into some form after playing some footy after returning from injury.
MC: That pack will soon resemble the formidable unit that started the year.
NB: We are slowly getting back to that. With Richie Beaumont now playing every week for Rochdale and Luke Thompson and Greg Richards really developing we have a lot of options so that creates a lot of pressure in the forward pack. Willie Manu will come back this week. Some of the young ones are doing well – but need some time off. Greg Richards was up for a while and Luke Thompson has been up for a while. With the kids you can roll them in and out because it benefits them and the team. Boof came back with Kyle and Willie came back a few weeks earlier so there is a lot of pressure on that area of the field.
MC: What are the options at half back this week with Lance being out?
NB: Luke Walsh comes in and if you say in St Helens Gary Wheeler is playing six his week nobody is going to be worried about it. Bringing Walshy back is a bonus too – and hopefully he can stay on the field so we can have a nice consistent back end of the year.
We are comfortable with that half back combination, but one hasn’t played for a month and the other has not played 6 for about 16 weeks. It’s about maintaining some consistency at the back end of the year.
MC: How about the two new dads - Willie Manu and Tommy Makinson?
NB: That was a unique one – two kids born on the same morning to partners of players of the same team.
Both will come back in. Tommy has been in terrific form and Willie has come back from a long term injury and his previous game was his best, so signs are that he is hitting his straps to finish the year well.