11:27am Thursday 26th April 2012
By Mike Critchley
COMPETITION for places in the matchday 17 is just one of the aspects making sure Saints will show no complacency in Friday’s Challenge Cup tie with minnows Oldham.
Saints will start as overwhelming favourites against the lowest ranked team left in the competition, but that does not mean they will be taking anything for granted.
Skipper Paul Wellens said his team has “no god given right to progress” and have taken on board the salutary they were given in the previous round at Widnes.
With big games on the horizon – particularly the likelihood of the quarter final in a fortnight’s time – building momentum is key to collecting some silverware this term.
Wellens said: “We are a professional outfit and we need to be professional and will not be taking them lightly.
“When we get into situations (like at Widnes in the last round) we need to be more ruthless. We had Widnes well beaten at 40-16, but we took our foot off the gas and let them back in the game.
“We learned a valuable lesson that day and thankfully it did not come at any cost. Last week showed we had learned from that.
“We have to take that into the game against Oldham. Rugby league is a tough game – even when you play a lower league opposition.
“We are trying to build momentum.
“The last five weeks have been better – apart from Good Friday – but there is still a lot of improvement in us and we want to get better regardless of the opposition.”
A lot of the old certainties around the first choice Saints 17 have gone with the shake-up that has taken place at the club this past six weeks.
Although injuries to some established players like Tony Puletua, Jon Wilkin, Ade Gardner, Gary Wheeler and Josh Perry has probably made acting head coach Mike Rush’s selection easier in recent weeks, once those players regain full fitness there will be an almighty scramble for spots.
The fact that rookies like Josh Jones and Adam Swift have already seized their opportunities with both hands – and other young guns are being primed for first team action – has added to that mix.
Wellens added: “Josh Jones was given an opportunity against Warrington and has played really well since and not looked a bit out of place in five games.
“If you get in the side and play well you get rewarded – and that is only right.
“There is a healthy competition for places in our group and so players are motivated to perform, especially with some players back within the next few weeks.
“It is important whichever 17 takes the field that you play well or else you will yourself out of the team.”
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