SAINTS host Leigh tonight (8pm) at Totally Wicked Stadium when they play their first local derby of the 2024 campaign.

It is an eagerly anticipated tussle after sides fought out three tight battles last year with honours even in the Super League, but the Leopards clawing their way past Saints in the bruising and controversial Challenge Cup semi final.

Wellens makes two changes to last week’s squad with Matty Lees, who took a bang at Huddersfield, and Tee Ritson out and replaced by Konrad Hurrell and Noah Stephens.

Hurrell missed last week with a sickness bug ahead of Saturday’s game and is now available for selection.

In Hurrell's absence last week Waqa Blake switched back to centre with Jon Bennison on the wing and taking his try well on the wing and setting up another one.

Wellens said: “There are some tough calls to make Jon came in and did a really good job on the left wing and Waqa in the centres."

“So there are a number of options available to me this week."

Stephens has been named for the first time in the senior 21-man declaration and if selected on Friday night would make his official senior debut!

Saints 21-man squad v Leigh Leopards 1. Jack Welsby, 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Waqa Blake, 4. Mark Percival, 5. Jon Bennison, 6. Jonny Lomax, 7. Lewis Dodd, 8. Alex Walmsley, 9. Daryl Clark, 11. Sione Mata’utia, 13. Morgan Knowles, 14. Moses Mbye, 15. James Bell, 16. Curtis Sironen, 18. Jake Wingfield, 19. Matt Whitley, 20. George Delaney, 21. Ben Davies, 22. Sam Royle, 23. Konrad Hurrell, 31. Noah Stephens.

It is early days, but Saints bounce into the game as table-toppers after finishing with a flourish in cracking the traditionally tough nut at Huddersfield last week.

Wellens expects a tough battle against a side who, after last year’s exploits, are no longer a surprise package – and have even strengthened in some key areas this term.

Wellens said: “We played them three times last year and it really did have that derby feel to it in all three games – and all those games were very close.

“There were probably a few misconceptions at the start of last year with Leigh coming up into Super League, but you only have to look at the playing roster to understand they are very good side who qualified for the play-offs and won the Challenge Cup.

“That is a clear indication as to where they are as a team.

“I have watched their pre-season trials and Round One game and they are a team that pride themselves on themselves on their physicality.

“It is certainly an area where we are going to have to match them at the weekend.”

Leigh will be without injured PNG international Edwin Ipape, who needs surgery.

In his place they have brought in Warrington’s well-travelled hooker Brad Dwyer at nine.

Leopards have also added some real quality in the halves with NRL stand off Matt Moylan joining from Cronulla Sharks.

Wellens said: “Matt Moylan has proved himself to be a really good player in the NRL and he is certainly going to strengthen Leigh.

“In the early games that I have watched you can see that he is building his combinations with Lachlan Lam in the halves and getting used to who he is playing with.

“It doesn’t take good players too long to adjust to their environment, and given the quality of player Matt is he will do that very quickly.”

Leopards will be without prop Tom Amone, who is serving a one-match ban, but centre Ricky Leutele is free to play after being successful at Tuesday night’s tribunal.