Lance Hohaia - 'I may have to play a different role at Saints this year but I'd like to stay at 6'

Lance Hohaia - 'I may have to play a different role at Saints this year but I'd like to stay at 6'

Try time for Lance Hohaia

Lance Hohaia passes the ball (Picture: Bernard Platt)

First published in Latest News
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St Helens Star: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Sports Writer

VERSATILE Kiwi Lance Hohaia accepts he may have to play a different role for the team this year – but he has not given up hope of staying in the halves.

With coach Nathan Brown opting to give Lee Gaskell an early crack at securing the stand off berth, it looks like the New Zealand World Cup winner is initially going to be used to jump in at hooker when James Roby takes a breather.

It is a job he did efficiently and effectively in his 40 minute stint on Sunday when he scored one from dummy half and then used his wit, pace and composure to set up the try of the match for Ade Gardner.

With Brown also giving hints that Roby will cease to be operating at nine for the full 80 minutes, it could be that Hohaia’s own ambition will be sacrificed for the overall good of the team.

But if Sunday’s display is anything to go by that could be the best thing all round for the team, Roby and Hohaia.

Hohaia said: “Nathan spoke to me and said that he understands what I can bring to the table and that he wanted to see the other guys play too.

"It is a team sport and everyone deserves their opportunity to show their stuff and I understand that and it is fine.

“We are all working towards the same goal which is producing a good football team that is going to play consistently every week.

“As a senior player who has played lots of positions over his career I understood that and I have been in this situation before.

“I enjoy playing hooker and full back – I have played there before and know those positions really well, but at this stage I’d like to stay at six if I can.

“I have spoken to Browny about that and he understands that, but who he decides to play 1-17 is up to him.

“When I came to the club they were looking for an experienced half back and I still feel I could be that person.

“But at the end of the day it is a team sport and accept I may have to play a different role this year, but time will tell.”

Saints boss Brown had already spoken about the options he has with Hohaia.

Brown said: “Lance can play lots of positions well - I have spoken to him about it.

“He is comfortable - he knows it it is a team game and knows he is going to move positions. That is a great asset to have but he showed against Wakefield how well he does at hooker, but last week he did similar at full back.

“Players like Lance are invaluable.”

And then he hinted that Saints could revert back to the two hooker tactic that has been so effective for them in the past when Roby worked in tandem with Keiron Cunningham.

That would break the orthodoxy that has developed that gamebreakers like the Saints number nine need to be out there for 80 minutes.

Brown said: “There is no reward for James Roby playing 80 minutes every week if you don’t need him to.

“Robes can play a little bit of back row and Lance can go into the halves, full back or in the centres so sometimes it will be what is required in the game and what the team requires.”

Hohaia has had a good off-season, which saw him head over to Hawaii to get married.

But he has soon knuckled down to training under the new coaching team – and although quieter in the first low key match against Huddersfield, the experienced Kiwi was soon in the thick of it against Wakefield.

“The first game back it was more of a trial game, everyone was a bit rusty and there were a lot of stoppages and the ball did not come my way too much.

“But against Wakefield I was a bit more amongst the action and it was a step up from last week because Browny wanted to give the top 20 guys in the squad as many minutes as they can.

“It is a matter of building up – my preparation in the off season has been pretty good and now I look forward to that first game.

“It was a good sign for us – Browny has some good structures in place for us and knows that we can all play football.

“Everyone understands their role and it is a case of sticking to our game plan a little bit more and hopefully we can build on what we have seen in the two warm-up games,” he said.

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