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Sia Soliola ready to make impact as season climax approaches
SIA Soliola is looking to make up for lost time in a Saints team that he believes ‘has a lot to offer’ in the forthcoming play-offs.
The powerhouse New Zealander sat out six matches with the ankle injury he collected playing for the Exiles against England in June but made a successful try-scoring comeback for Nathan Brown’s side in the 26-12 victory at Wakefield on Sunday.
“I came through all right, no dramas, the ankle pulled up fine so it’s sweet,” said the 27-year-old Auckland-born back rower.
“I was quite confident my ankle would pull up all right, it was just whether the lungs would be ok.
“But I came through all right and I’ve just got to try and maintain that and get as many minutes as I can as the games progress and then filter that into the play-offs.”
Soliola admits he ‘hates watching’ but the enforced lay-off gave him an opportunity to assess Saints’ position and see how progress has been made in such a short period.
He agreed that in the space of a month or two, outsiders have gone from asking ‘What has gone wrong at Saints?’ to considering them as Super League contenders again.
At one stage the red V men were in danger of finishing outside the top eight for the first time in the summer era, but could yet finish as high as fourth depending on their results and those of Leeds Rhinos.
“I think Browny and a lot of us knew the potential we had but it just wasn’t clicking at the time,” said Soliola, who marked his return with a try on his second touch against Wakefield.
“Thank God it is coming together at the right time.
“Leeds have proven in the last couple of years that you can make a late run.
“We just needed to keep grinding out wins and stay in the running.
“Then, when everyone starts coming back from injuries and everyone starts gelling you can perform at just the right time.
“And we think that we’re still progressing and we’ve got a lot to offer.
“The difference has come about through a combination of things.
“With all the injuries, we were having to chop and change and we never really had people secure in spots.
“When it’s like that you don’t really get the combinations going and things don’t go as smoothly as you want them to.
“The boys took a lot of confidence out of winning the game against Wigan. In fact the wins against Wigan and Catalan were massive and the confidence plays a big part too.
“For my comeback against Wakefield, it was easy to filter in with a team that’s going as well as this one is at the moment.
“Everything is starting to click and it’s good to see the boys playing well and combinations working.
“We’ve just got to keep progressing.”
And he agrees with Brown’s assessment last week that a difficult run-in against second-placed Warrington Wolves and Challenge Cup finalists Hull FC can be beneficial going into the play-offs.
“They’re two big games in which we’d like to test ourselves a bit and are coming at the right time,” he said.
“Warrington are one of the best attacking and defensive teams, while Hull FC are starting to find some really good form which is why they’re at Wembley this weekend.
“It’s a really good test for us going into the play-offs, a chance for us to get everything working and taking that forward.
“If we can perform well in these games, we can roll into the play-offs with more confidence.”
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