ST HELENS boss Nathan Brown expects the Rhinos to be on top of their game when they clash on Friday night. He was in conversation with the St Helens Star’s senior sports writer Mike Critchley.
MC: Is this week’s game at Leeds about building on the last outing against Wakefield?
NB: Yes, that is the key for us. I thought the boys did really well last time out, despite some disruption. I was happy with what we did. We tried some different things and the boys bought into it really well and got a good result.
MC: Is it a bonus having Lance Hohaia back?
NB: Yes. Not only has Larney had a great year, but to have a player with his experience back in a key position — with what we are missing from there — is very pleasing, especially a few weeks ahead of schedule.
MC: Sometimes it is hard to work out who is actually playing what role in the halves/loose forward role.
NB: It is quite simple — we break everything down and make it as easy as we possibly can. Jordan Turner did a great job, as did Wello, Wheels, until his injury, and Mark Flanagan also went well.
We feel it gives us our best shot of having a strong finish to the year. To do what we did to Wakefield, a side that had previously beaten Leeds, Wigan and Warrington, gave the boys a lot of confidence, and now we have had two weeks to try and improve and head to Headingley and do it again.
MC: Jordan Turner handles the responsibility well, doesn’t he?
NB: Jordy can kick, can catch and pass, but more importantly, he can communicate quite well. He provided us with a good performance the other day. And although the level of opposition is rising this week, we are confident that we can improve again after another two weeks of training together.
MC: Which Leeds do you expect on Friday — one that is buoyed from the Wembley win or one that is physically and emotionally fatigued from the final?
NB: We can only prepare for a good Leeds side, which is generally what you get. They have won the cup — and we can’t sit here and guess if they have been drinking for four days, three days or one day. All we can do is go there and be prepared to play a really good Leeds side.
What happens will be down to how well we play and how Leeds turn up. But with where they are on the ladder I would be surprised if they are not putting in a big effort.
MC: Especially because it is against Saints?
NB: They are generally really good games between the sides — and I have only been involved in four or five. They are generally good, hard, tough contests with plenty of footy played. When they are on that spot with three other sides they know that if they can get over us they are only two behind first, so there is so much for them to play for, which tends to make me think they will be up for this contest.
MC: Looking at the fixtures, all the top clubs have really tough matches leading into the play-offs.
NB: It is a really tough finish for all the top teams, apart from Cas. All the other five sides have got games against each other. That provides for a few twists and turns in the competition before the season is out.