SAINTS centre Michael Shenton believes the young guns that were blooded in the heat of the battle will be the key to Saints’ success in the year ahead.

But he also believes the new players coming in – Lance Hohaia, Mark Flanagan and Anthony Laffranchi – will add something as the men in the red vee prepare to begin their new life in the new stadium.

Saints spent all last year on the road, playing home games in Widnes, but the £25m 18,000 stadium at Peasley Cross will be their new fortress from 2012.

If further adversity was needed last term, the team suffered an horrendous casualty list from start to finish – the silver lining being the introduction of several youngsters, who earned their spurs in the heat of the battle.

Shenton said: “It was amazing getting to the Grand Final and we were right in the mix and then the injuries happened.

“I went back in the changing rooms and it was on the telly there as they were putting my elbow back in. Just to watch it was heartbreaking.

“I felt so sorry for the boys – it is not nice to think about the way it all ended, but we can take a lot out of the year, especially the young guys coming through.

“Royce spoke to the boys afterwards about what we can take out of the season – he said try and forget about the disappointment of the Grand Final but that we came a long way over the year.”

The strike centre believes the scars from this fifth defeat in a row will not be too deep for the youngsters in particular, rather believes it could motivate them for the year ahead.

“We were massively disappointed but there is next year now. We have lost some guys but we look strong again next year.

“Every single one of the young guys have stepped up, especially the half backs where it is such a hard role to learn.”

However, he has revealed that he still not watched the final since that fateful night.

“I couldn’t watch it now – I have not watched it yet. We may end up doing some video work on it some bits of it.

“It was heartbreaking because we knew it would have been one of the greatest Grand Final wins for a long time due the adversity we have faced,” he said.

The former Castleford centre seemed starved of possession when he first arrived, with Saints playing more to Francis Meli on the left at first.

But that changed once Jonny Lomax got settled into his half back role and starting working the right hand side.

Shenton said: “I am glad I played in all the games and it was tough because we played with five or six different half backs throughout the year which makes it difficult to get your timing right.

“Defensively it was pretty good and towards the back end once me and Jonny got our combinations right I began playing my best footy. That is the key to it.

“I am looking forward to next season already. I am missing England, which is harsh but at least I get an off season.

“Last year I broke my ankle against New Zealand and didn’t get a break buy was straight back and into physio.”