SAINTS could clinch their first piece of silverware since 2008 tonight (Thursday) when they tackle Warrington at Langtree Park – and the club may have been thrown an added incentive to finish top of the pile.
Although finishing in top spot does not have the advantages it had under the previous play-off systems, the bonus this term could be qualification to an expanded six team World Club Challenge.
Although Nathan Brown’s men are four points clear with two games to go, second-placed Castleford have a relatively easier run in and could take the League Leaders’ Shield on points difference should Saints falter.
Although at one time Saints were almost blasé about finishing top – taking that title four times in a row under Daniel Anderson – it has been a long time since the silver polish was needed.
Skipper Paul Wellens believes that taking out the League Leaders’ Shield would be celebrated as a real step forward and a reward for the players, who have largely spent their careers as bridesmaids since 2008.
Wellens said: “There have been a few disappointing performances that have put a blot on the season, but on the whole we have gone great.
“There have been a lot of positives this year in terms of how we developed as a group.
“I am just desperate to win something, not for myself but for the club but for a lot of the young players in this organisation.
“It is 2008 since we last brought silverware to the club – for a club of this stature that is far too long. It is time we got our hands on silverware again and I hope to do that this year.
“The League Leaders' Shield is as good a place as any to start.
“When you have not won a trophy for so long when you get your hands on silverware and some of the less experienced players in the group get a taste of that, it can only be a good thing.”
After tonight’s game, Saints will then travel to Huddersfield for their final league game brought forward to Friday, September 12 .
Castleford entertain neighbours Wakefield, playing purely for local pride, and then make the trip to Catalan, who may already be settled in seventh by then so Saints need to keep the destiny in their own hands.
The allocation of places in the World Club Challenge has not been confirmed, but Saints chairman Eamonn McManus believes the League Leaders would get one of the three spots from the northern hemisphere.
Writing in tonight’s match programme, McManus states the additional reason for finishing top.
“There is also the added incentive this season of a place in the expanded World Club Challenge next year and this has definitely been recognised as an added incentive by all clubs.”