SAINTS coach Paul Wellens was asked about an assessment of his side at the midway point of Super League, the opportunities for young players knocking on the door, how Thatto Heath have been assisting and his thoughts on Sione Mata'utia and Konrad Hurrell.

MC: You won’t be getting carried away, top of the league at the midway point and you must be pretty happy the way these last three-four weeks have gone despite some adversity?

PW: Yes, definitely. We've been faced with a little bit of adversity with key players with long-term injuries but that has really galvanised the group.

Younger players say for example like Noah Stephens coming into the side, always bring energy.

We have got players like Jake Burns, Jonny Vaughan, Sam Royle, Ben Davies, Jon Bennison in and around the squad who are champing at the bit for opportunities and I could list many more names to them as well.

But I think off the back of Noah getting an opportunity and playing - all the other young kids are now looking at it and really It's not an ideal situation missing so many players, but it has actually been very positive in other ways.

MC: Jonny Vaughan must have been knocking on your door all year. Is it a case of just being patient, to just doing what he's doing in training and when he gets his opportunity on Dual Reg and his time will come?

PW: All the players have to be patient because they're trying to get into a very good team and that's the challenge when you're a young player coming into this club. We will always look to give young players opportunity.

We have always done that and been hugely successful with it, but those opportunities have got to be earned.

I'm really pleased with a lot of the work that a lot of our young players are doing. The standards at training are excellent at the moment from that young group of players and they just need to keep continuing to deliver that.

And then maybe this week, the week after or the week after that, I can't make any promises, but there will be an opportunity at some point.

MC: What are your travel arrangements for this one given the distance?

PW: We are going down on the Saturday and will stay over – about 25 minutes away from the Stoop. We'll get down there handy on Saturday so the players can get settled and we feel it's the best preparation going into the game.

We'll do our captain’s run before we leave. Obviously the pitch is out of action at the moment, so we plan to do our captain's at Thatto Heath. They have been excellent with us in recent times in allowing us to use their facility.

People talk a lot about what we as a professional club do for the Community game, but that's a two-way relationship.

The Community game – not just Thatto Heath but all the Community clubs do quite lot for us. It is really good that we have got those really strong relationships where we can work together.

MC: Can I just check on the status of Sione Mata’utia – and if he is any closer to agreeing to taking up his one year option?

PW: Sione has been playing brilliant and we would desperately love him to stay.

He has got a lot going on and a lot to figure out. We are very respectful of his personal situation given the fact that he's got a young family and one that's continuing to grow.

His partner Hannah provides great support for Sione as well.

So we're respectful of their situation and what I want to do, like we did last year, is allow them the time to decide their future and be happy with the decision that they have made.

In terms of our stance, we would love Sione to be here for next year.

MC: So are you giving Sione as long as he needs to make a decision – or is there a deadline?

PW: We will wait for a decision for as long as possible, within reason, and Sione understands that as well because the club needs to make decisions on recruitment and how we progress moving forward.

Sione is under no illusion in terms of Option One for us is that Sione Mata’utia is a Saints player in 2025.

MC: And any further updates on Konrad Hurrell’s future?

PW: I'm really happy with Konrad - not only his form but with his application in recent times and that's reflected in his performances in recent times.

Konrad knows this and that's always been the challenge for him - if he applies himself and keeps on top of his physical fitness and that side of things then he's a really effective player for us.

Hopefully that can continue and then something can be sorted from a contract perspective.