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Michael Shenton and Josh Jones out, Sia Soliola to return
SAINTS will be looking to stop their losing run on Friday night when former boss Ian Millward brings his Castleford side to Langtree Park.
The surprise defeat at Wakefield on Sunday saw Saints come up with back-to-back losses for the first time under Mike Rush and Keiron Cunningham which has intensified the battle for top four placings.
Rush outlined areas where his side had been poor and stressed they would be working on them this week.
He said: “We were not great and need to improve, but we have come off the back of a really big month – Catalan, Huddersfield and Wolves.
“On Sunday we hit a patch after the Warrington game where we were low on energy and enthusiasm knowing that we can’t finish second, but we still scored 32 points.
“Some of our penalties were down to poor technique and we will address that. “Part of it stems from a little bit of tiredness.
“We are not naïve and know there are things to sort out and will sort out our defence.
“It is the first time in four or five games we have defended quite slack. It was not a great day for line speed and there were a few results like that in round 24 with players starting to look at the play-offs.”
The target now, with three games to go, is to finish third and with two home ties against lowly opposition that should be within their grasp.
Saints do have some injury concerns, with centres Michael Shenton (ankle) and Josh Jones (deadleg) likely to miss this week.
On the plus side fiery forward Sia Soliola is likely to return after a two-match lay off and wing Ade Gardner is back in contention after a lengthy absence, but Jon Wilkin (quad) will not be risked. Castleford are struggling and their season reached its nadir on Sunday with a heavy home defeat by London. But Rush is taking nothing for granted against Millward’s side.
“We are preparing for the best Cas team because you can turn it around in a game. That said, this week is about us and our willingness to defend and roll our sleeves up and get back on track to show the form we were showing before the Warrington game ahead of the play offs,” he said.
“It is the first time we have lost two on the bounce but we are not sulking. It is fine that people write us off – they wrote Leeds off last year.
“We have to have a mentality to work for the play offs and be there when they come around.
"It is about getting through to end of the year and then it is a cup competition. We need some good performances now but it is about mentally being there when the play offs come.”