Saints hooker James Roby believes that the fresh ideas new coach Nathan Brown can bring to the team could make the difference this year.
Although he was speaking before Saints got their season off to a nightmare start against Huddersfield, in the long-term Roby expects Brown’s way to make the positive difference in the big games this season.
Roby spelled out the new coach’s individual improvements as much as tweaking the team as the key.
He said: “Nathan has come in and been fantastic. He has brought in a few new ideas, but he knows we are a quality team and we are always there or thereabouts.
“Although we have not finished it off in the big games this past four years, hopefully Nathan can help us rectify that.”
Not only do Saints have a new head coach in Brown, they also have a new assistant in Jamahl Lolesi.
Roby added: “We have a few new faces about the place and some new training methods. We are looking after ourselves a bit more after training, and overall it feels a little bit more professional again, with a good positive atmosphere.”
Saints went a fourth year without picking up a trophy last year, with it also being the first year since 2005 that they had not reached the Grand Final.
That they got anywhere near Old Trafford, following the awful start to last year’s campaign, was a testimony to the old heads in the red vee pulling together.
And to their credit, under Mike Rush and Keiron Cunningham Saints did the double over eventual champions Leeds, twice rocked Warrington on their own midden and eventually beat Wigan at the fourth time of asking.
They were results that instil a sense of belief in the team to still produce the goods.
“I am always confident in our team’s abilities and know that if we perform we can beat anybody in the league,” Roby said.
“In the last few years we have been there or thereabouts. We have good individuals, and hopefully Nathan’s input and new players’ input can help tweak it that little bit and pick up little weaknesses here and there.
“The good thing about Nathan is that he can pick up individual improvements rather than just the team.
“There are always areas to improve. If we can all do that as individuals then that will make a big difference.”
As for Roby’s role at number nine, early selections have seen Lance Hohaia coming off the bench, which could spell an end to keeping the England number nine out there for the full 80 minutes.
“I will do whatever Nathan says,” Roby remarked.
“I do like being out there, and if I get the choice to play or not I’d like to be out there.
“If Nathan wants to spell me, or start me somewhere else, I’ll do what is best for the team and trust Nathan’s judgement. He knows what players he has got and how to manage them, so I am happy to go with the flow and do the best I can for St Helens.
“We obviously know I may play full games, play half games with Lance coming on, Lance may come on and I go to back row – I am fine with whatever role I am given.”
A look at the league table after one round does not necessarily give too clear a picture, but Leeds, Warrington, Wigan – not forgetting Huddersfield – all got off to flying starts.
Roby anticipates the same old faces to be jostling for top end play-off spots in another 26 rounds.
He said: “Yes, it will probably be the same again. Leeds always come good at the right time of the year, Warrington haven’t changed their squad so they will still be decent.
“There is a lot of talk about Hull because of the signings they have made, but we will see 10 games in where everyone is.
“I have heard a lot of people say Wigan have lost too many good players and they will struggle, but how can you write a team like that off when they are packed with quality players and internationals?
“Say that at your peril. They are a bit like St Helens – a strong rugby town that always seems to produce local lads.”