Send us news by text, start your message Star News and your send photos and videos to 80360
Form and fitness is the key for Nathan Brown as Saints head into play-offs
FORM and fitness at the business end of the season is all that Saints coach Nathan Brown could have wished for.
After going through some horrendous weeks, missing key men like Jonny Lomax, Sia Soliola, Willie Manu and on two occasions James Roby, Saints have finished with a flourish.
Although some players remain sidelined – Ade Gardner, Mark Flanagan, Josh Perry and Mark Percival – Saints now have got a settled team with their spine fixed and playing regularly together.
That has led to some consistent performances – particularly against the big teams, bar a poor opening quarter against Warrington.
But now it is time to put it to the test with no scope for soft start and sloppy plays.
But Brown said his team will tackle the opening game with some confidence.
The head coach said: “We had a lot of tough times for a long period of time.
“But you need your best and experienced players out there this time of the year to do well – and as unlucky as we were earlier on the year we are very fortunate to have Jonny, Sia, Willie and Robes all back playing.
“The guys know what works for them and we have had some really good wins and have played well, so the guys are confident for the right reasons.
“They know that if they do the things that work for them that they are in with a chance.”
He believes recent run outs against Wigan, Catalan, Warrington and Hull will have steeled the side for the battles that await.
“We have been fortunate in the draw, with four of our last six games against sides that are in the top eight.
“That gets you much better prepared than facing sides lower on the table,” he said.
Although he sees strength in the way Hull KR have recruited this past two years and is a particular fan of the talents of Craig Hall, Michael Dobson, Lincoln Withers Greg Eden and Adam Walker, he does not believe Rover have an Indian sign over them.
Again he puts his faith in his team and the way it has developed and recovered.
“The big thing earlier this year was the personnel we lost. Wilko’s game has developed a little bit as he has gone on.
“We have been fortunate that Wilko, Lance, Wello and Jonny have now played a fair bit of time together to get a bit of consistency – and now we have got Robes back.
“Earlier in the year it was a different combination every week – not through selection, but through injury.
“So twice we played Rovers with really depleted sides, and in one of those games Franny got sent off, and we never lost by much, “The game we played the worst in was where we played our strongest side at home.
“To Hull KR’s credit they beat us on merit.
“A lot of the players here at St Helens know what is required and that is definitely a benefit,” said Brown.