Saints coach Nathan Brown blasts fixture schedule

CUP hero Luke Walsh salutes the army of Saints supporters at the end of Sunday’s dramatic win at Huddersfield Giants. On his comeback from injury, the scrum half landed the winning drop goal to send Saints marching into the fifth round. Pic Bernard Plat

CUP hero Luke Walsh salutes the army of Saints supporters at the end of Sunday’s dramatic win at Huddersfield Giants. On his comeback from injury, the scrum half landed the winning drop goal to send Saints marching into the fifth round. Pic Bernard Plat

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NATHAN Brown has lambasted scheduling of the Challenge Cup fifth round as another tough away draw leaves Saints with a daunting run of fixtures for the weeks ahead.

Brown, whose side have won their opening eight games of the year, admitted the hectic programme will affect his selection for the Castleford Tigers game this Friday.

After Sunday’s dramatic cup win at Huddersfield, Saints were drawn away to Leeds Rhinos.

With the fifth round tie set for Saturday, April 26, Saints will go to Headingley five days after a gruelling Easter which sees them host Wigan Warriors on Good Friday before travelling to Widnes Vikings on bank holiday Monday.

Brown said: “It's the worst time to play, the RFL have done a lot of good work recently but it's really poor and I don't see the common sense.

“There's just too much pressure on teams. It's not the Easter Monday game that is hard, it's the game after.

“It may be alright if you're Wigan against Hunslet but for us it's the biggest game of the year. An unlucky Easter could now ruin a Challenge Cup run and player welfare needs to be looked at.”

However, Brown says the squad are fully focused on Friday's trip against a Castleford side sitting two points behind uneaten Saints in second, although he admits selection will be influenced by what is ahead.

“It's a big game looking at where ourselves and Cas are at the moment. They're playing really well,” he said.

“Obviously we've got the cup game now and we can't afford to break players. We'd have liked everyone to play, with possibly one or two returning but the reality coming into Easter now is going to be different.”

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