SAINTS return to action after a four-and-a-half month break on Sunday when they take on Catalans at Headingley.

Here are this week's set of six talking points ahead of the Super League restart.

1. With that length of absence the players - in theory - should be as fresh as daisies. After all that is much longer than the standard off-season time, and three times the period international players get off in a standard winter.

Although you trust professional athletes to keep themselves in trim, there is a flip side to take into consideration. The players won't have had access to the sort of gym equipment they are used to at Saints, so maintaining a big muscle mass may have proven difficult. And secondly, a two-week resumption of training will have given the players plenty to cram in. Every minute of training and conditioning will matter.

Additionally, those players will have to get used to the knocks and be battle hardened again.

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2. Tied in with the fitness is the rule changes. Having no scrums - in an attempt to avoid unnecessary contact - will cut out those 60 second breaks where all players can stop and get their breath.

And giving six again for most ruck infringements will again see greater continuity and a speeded up game.

Whether by design or achieved through fatigue, this will ultimately lead to quicker play the balls and may cut out some of the third man in stuff in the tackle.

Coaches do only have a short space of time to get the these change lodged in their players' brains or cop the consequences.

3. It will be tough on the players. And one thing that will make it tougher will be the lack of a crowd.

Countless players have said in the past that the boost that they are given by well of energy from the noisy Scaff in the old days or the current West Stand has been priceless. At least the players can see more Saints cardboard cut outs than any other.

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4. There has been one significant change in the break; last year's Harry Sunderland winner Luke Thompson heading to the NRL and James Graham coming back the other way for a swansong.

You feel that Jammer, a treble winner in 2006 and who last wore the Saints red vee in the 2011 Grand Final defeat, has a bit of unfinished business here. This leader and warrior has not come over to be put out to grass - he'll be here to add to a winner's medal collection that stopped in 2008. And he will have that nous to help Saints' younger packmen too.

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5. Saints will probably have the benefit of a fully fit squad for the first time this year. It was not ideal to suspend the season on two disappointing back-to-back losses, but hopefully having a fitter Lachlan Coote in at full back and Mark Percival recovered from the surgery needed to fix his shoulder will restore the attack's cutting edge.

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6. The schedule ahead is going to be gruelling. The game's rulers and the clubs have had to tread a financial and health and well-being tightrope to get the season back up and running, with a programme that is trying to keep TV partners happy while at the same time give a glimmer that the fans will be back to see some action.

It is tough on the players, who are going to be flogged - particularly at the end. And hard for the fans, who have shelled out good money, but will hardly see a game.

I don't think anyone underestimates how fragile the situation for the sport, given the massive hit it has taken and the possibility of a new spike.

But let's just hope that we can just get this season completed, regroup and then try and attack the following World Cup year with some positivity.