SAINTS coach Justin Holbrook believes his side are starting to recover from their Challenge Cup semi-final hangover this week, with the upcoming break set to be a welcome relief for fatigued players, writes Nathan Okell.

Saints looked mentally and physically drained on Friday when they fell to a second successive defeat to the Huddersfield Giants, and although they wanted to be at Wembley next weekend, Holbrook believes the break will help the players hone in on their Old Trafford aspirations.

After admitting leading up to the Huddersfield game that his players would not be at their best on the back of the Catalans Dragons semi-final loss, Holbrook said this week: “The game went how I thought it would, but I was always hoping we would be good enough to win.

“I struggled to get myself up for it and I knew the players were going to do it tough.

“Had we won on the Sunday I would have spelled the guys which were looking tired, but I would never rest players for no reason.

“There were definitely signs of fatigue, but as we’ve got the week after this off, and because all the players were feeling so bad, I wanted to get them out on the field, and the best way to try and feel better is to try and get a win.

“We fell just short, and it was probably our worst performance of the year. It was just disappointing not to be good enough to win.

“We want to win every week obviously and we want to play well, but we haven’t played well for two weeks now. Friday had a lot to do with Sunday that’s for sure.

“We’ve got a normal turnaround now, so we will be ok.

“I think the players need the break that’s for sure, and now that we’ve only got the one thing to concentrate on it will definitely help us.

“On the other hand, I don’t want the break. I want to keep going and would rather be playing in a Challenge Cup Final, but it’s a long season with a lot of games, so to have that week off forced upon us will be a good thing.

“It just feels like a normal week now, and I didn’t have to come in on Monday trying to make people feel alright from the Sunday game.

“The cup defeat knocked everybody around, but this week, although we lost, everyone feels back to normal again, which is good.”

The biggest indicator of Saint’s weariness has been the performance of the pack in the past two games, but the performances of both Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Luke Thompson were shining lights.

“Louie and Tommo have been unbelievably good considering how we’ve been on the back foot for the last couple of weeks,” he said.

“If we can just get back to normal in that area imagine how good they will look then.

“If you keep giving the opposition the ball, it doesn’t matter who they are, you’re going to get dominated and that’s what’s happened the last couple of weeks.

“We’ve made a lot of errors recently, and when you get tired it makes you look like a completely different team.

“I can’t fault our effort as a whole, and to hang in and nearly win on Friday night after what we’d been through the week before was a huge effort, but now we need to control the ball a bit better and get back to how we were playing previously.”

After tonight’s clash with Wakefield, Saints will next be in action against fierce rivals Wigan Warriors at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Friday, August 31, kick-off 7.45pm.

A repeat of the cup semi-final against Catalans Dragons will follow on Saturday, September 8.