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It's do or die, says seasoned play-off campaigner Paul Wellens
SKIPPER Paul Wellens knows what to expect come 5pm Saturday when Saints enter the knock-out phase of the Super League season.
Wellens – who is entering his 15th consecutive play-off series – knows it is do-or-die now every week until Old Trafford with no reprieves, blank dates or second chances.
And although Saints are facing a Hull KR side that some would call a bogey side after winning all three previous encounters this term, Wellens has real belief in his team.
And with six wins from their last seven games, that confidence is not a false one.
Wellens said: “I think we are one of the form teams of the competition coming into the play-offs.
“In our one defeat in the last seven - against Warrington - we probably suffered from a poor opening 20 minute period.
“The next hour of that game I thought we were very good so I think we have got a lot to be confident about.
“We understand that it is do or die for us and that we have got to win every game, but that is not necessarily a bad thing because the players will go out and leave nothing out there.”
Saints face a Rovers side that not only completed a league double over them, but also inflicted a painful opening round knockout in the Challenge Cup.
And although wary of the threat posed by clinical finisher David Hodgson, the tactical nous of Michael Dobson and the force up front of Corey Paterson, Mickey Paea and Con Mika, this will be a different Saints side than the ones that played in those encounters.
But Wellens also stressed that June’s defeat in the rain at home to the Robins was the trigger for the better Saints performances that followed.
Wellens said: “Hull KR is another game – but what we can take confidence out of is that we are in a much better place now than we were when we last played them.
“If anything, the defeat at home to Hull KR was the catalyst for our resurgence.
“The Chairman had his say after that and we had to do some real soul searching, but that defeat was the kick up the backside we all needed.”
The return of James Roby to hooker is massive – and he had a tremendous comeback game at Hull on Friday.
Confidence is one thing, but nobody at Saints is getting ahead of themselves.
Hull KR have shown what they can do – not just against Saints.
Wellens added: “They are a physical side and the coach has assembled a good squad there.
“They showed a couple of weeks back when they won at Headingley what a good side they are. We know we are in for a tough game that we will have to play very well to progress.
“They are all tough games in the play–offs.
“In all four games you would struggle to find a nailed on winner. That is good for the competition but re-affirms the need to be at our best at the weekend.
“If you have any designs to win Grand Finals – in fact any rugby league game – your forwards have to front up. It is as simple as that.
“The challenge is there every week – it is like a Grand Final every week – but you don’t need to look any further than Leeds in the last couple of years to know it can be done.
“It is not easy and you have to fight for everything and there will be difficult periods in games where we will have to hang tough and grind situations out.
“We are prepared to that, but it is in our hands.”
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