ZEB Taia puts his early season form for Saints down to a number of factors.

Having a full pre-season of training behind him under Justin Holbrook and the influence of full-back Ben Barba are two of them.

The 33-year-old’s strong ball-carrying on a lethal left edge has been evident in the two Super League games so far, scoring two tries in the home hammering of Castleford.

With Mark Percival bagging a hat-trick in that contest with last year’s League Leaders’ Shield winners and Barba chipping in with two, their combinations with the half-backs on the left showed up to be devastating to the best of defences.

It would seem the threat of Barba popping up is commanding a lot of attention for markers and creating opportunities for all those around him.

“When Benny’s there he’s a massive threat,” said Taia. “He’s always picking the right plays.”

Australian-born Taia, who has international caps for New Zealand and the Cook Islands, added that Saints are not doing things much differently to last year.

“What Justin’s got us doing is the same stuff he’s had us doing since he got here,” said Taia.

“We’re probably competing a bit more now.

“Justin’s big on the little things in a game, the little one percenters that win you games.

“That’s pretty much all that’s changed since Justin’s come here.

“He knows we can play football, he knows we’ve got skill.

“That was a big part of what we did in the pre-season, working on our skill a lot.

“I think we’re playing the same footy since Justin came in.

“It’s just we’ve all had pre-seasons under our belts, me and Benny Barba in particular.

“On the field we’re just carrying on with how we finished last season.

“Consistency is a big part. Last season we didn’t get the wins early and we fell behind, but we were still there towards the last four. The goal this year is to go one step further.

“I’m just excited every time we go out to play because I’m that confident in the teammates around me that we can go out and win games if we do our job.

“Everyone’s got a job in this team and it’s pretty basic. Everyone has a role, you’ve just got to do it and play a part.”

And there is plenty of competition for places to keep everybody on their toes.

“There is with the young kids coming through,” he said.

“We’ve got good depth and if one player does get injured the next guy is going to take his opportunity.”

The season’s only new signing for Saints, second rower James Bentley, is eager to take Taia’s shirt.

“He went really well in both trials. He was really good in the Sheffield game when he scored a hat-trick,” said Taia.

“But not only him, there’s guys like Matty Lees, Jack Ashworth and Jake Spedding, everyone’s getting kept on their toes to perform because the next player that comes in will be taking that opportunity and might not want to give the shirt back.

“I do take satisfaction from seeing the young players pushing for places.

“They are really humble and respectful. They do everything they are meant to do.

“I like to pass on a little bit of knowledge in training sessions, in particular when we’re doing skill-based stuff like edge-on-edge.

“There was a lot of that for me when I was coming through the ranks and it’s only fair I do the same.”