ALEX Walmsley’s testimonial match against Leigh Centurions a week on Friday will give coach Kristian Woolf the first opportunity to see how the new-look Saints will fit together on the playing field before the Super League campaign gets underway.

With half a dozen new boys on board, replacing some high-profile departures, Woolf will already know the 17 he is likely to start the title defence with – but this run-out will allow Saints to fine-tune some of those workings.

Although Saints have lost some key components of the club’s success this past three years – with Lachlan Coote, Theo Fages, James Bentley and Kevin Naiqama moving on, prop Walmsley is excited by the quality that has come in to replace them.

St Helens Star:

James Bell

Walmsley said: “What we have signed over this last few months is as good as any transfer business I have known the club to do.

“Considering the key personnel we have lost, the calibre of player we have brought in it genuinely makes you more excited for the season to start.”

St Helens Star:

Will Hopoate

In have come Tongan test skipper Will Hopoate along with compatriot Konrad Hurrell, Manly Sea Eagles second row Curtis Sironen and ex-Parramatta Eels hooker Joey Lussick, Scottish international James Bell and Widnes utility back Danny Hill.

“I am really excited by what they bring,” said Walmsley.

St Helens Star:

Joey Lussick

“Joey is world class. I have been so impressed with him – and I have been lucky enough to play this last nine years alongside probably the best nine there has ever been.

“But to have Joey (Lussick) come in and take a bit of the load off Robes is exciting. He is a cracking player.

“Then look at Sirro (Sironen) – he offers something different to the pack; big, strong and agile with perfect hands.

“We have already seen what Koni (Hurrell) can do at Leeds, Belly (James Bell) is a competitor with good hands while Hoppa (Hopoate) is world class and we have seen the subtleties in his game.

St Helens Star:

Konrad Hurrell

“There is some skill and quality in the new signings and we are going to be better for them and I say that off the back of losing some unbelievable players in Cootey, Kev, Theo and the rest.

“It was always going to be a big challenge but I look at the people we have brought in and the people that they are and we will be better for that.

“They are up for the challenge.”

St Helens Star:

Lewis Dodd

Those new recruits, combined with the consolidation of young stars like Jack Welsby and Lewis Dodd into first 13 jerseys with plenty more young guns champing at the bit, means that there will be intense competition to fit all in the match-day squad.

Teams don’t get to be three-peat champions by resting on laurels, nor will the class of 2022 seeking an unprecedented fourth in a row.

Walmsley not only accepts that all will be on their toes, but stressed the importance of the whole squad’s quality and application day-to-day on the training field.

“The class of the players missing out on selection shows where we are as a team and the calibre of squad we have got,” He said.

“That said you never win a Super League with just 17 players – you need a good squad and that goes down to the young lads.

“You need to be training against good talented lads who are going to test you in training to prepare you for the game.

“Come the start of the year there will be some high calibre people missing out but what we have got here as a team is very much one-in, all-in – everyone wants to play.

“I know there is nobody in our team that would rest on their laurels, but having so many good players pressing for places keeps everyone looking over their shoulders.”