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Josh Perry and Tony Puletua return for Wakefield clash
NATHAN Brown will trim down his squad for Sunday’s last run out before the Super League season starts.
Wakefield, who were one of only three teams to beat Saints in the second half of the season last year, will provide a good test as Brown seeks to run the rule over his players.
The game will see a return to action for big men Josh Perry and Tony Puletua, and possibly Gary Wheeler.
Paul Clough is still a week away and Adam Swift is a longer term casualty with a groin injury.
Brown said: “We will reduce the number of players this week with it being the last friendly.
“Ideally you like to give most people an opportunity again but the way it is you can’t do that.
“Some blokes won’t get to play who have shown they will definitely play Super League this year so there’s always going to be one or two who are unlucky. But less numbers does help for continuity.”
If Saints keep a healthy squad there will be some healthy competition for spots early on in the campaign.
“Every side has its players who are nailed on but the healthy competition for places is good.
“The teams that have won all the trophies the past few years have had their luck with injury and had their best players available all the time, and two, they have had players putting pressure on them to keep them on their toes.
“You need your share of luck and you need your young kids to come through, like Josh Jones came through last year,” Brown said.
The new boss continues to be pleased with some of the younger players coming through at Saints, but explained that the attitude of the old heads in the squad has been impressive too.
“Joe Greenwood is a good young kid and good trainer. He is a typical St Helens player, who knows how to play footy and where the space is. He has got a good future ahead of him as long as he keeps training hard and keeps learning.
“We will see what comes out of the next game. One of the good things about St Helens is the older players are all good professionals, who work hard and train hard and always put the team first, so only for a drop of form it is hard to imagine how those guys would not be playing because the way they compete is terrific as is the way they train.
“It is complacency or injury that costs the older guys a spot, but in my time here I can only see what a good example they set. They are all doing pretty well,” he said.
With Lee Gaskell given the opportunity to reclaim his stand-off berth back, that leaves Lance Hohaia once again showing his versatility.
Brown said: “Lance is a unique player as I have already said to him. He is a good player in lots of positions.
“That is to the team’s benefit but probably to his detriment through his career. “Anyone who can represent his country at nine and one and then play in a Grand Final at six is a handy player.
“Every club in Super League or the NRL would want Lance Hohaia, not too many would tell you what position they would put him but he is such an important player to any squad.”