REPAIRS to the storm-damaged Langtree Park roof will be completed this week to guarantee Saints’ historic stadium opener against Widnes will go ahead.

Saints tackle the Super League newcomers in the Karalius Cup game a week tomorrow in the team’s only pre-season friendly of the year.

Although the match, which will see new boys Anthony Laffranchi, Lance Hohaia and Mark Flanagan make their debuts, is important for gelling the team, it has the twin purpose of ensuring the 18,000 capacity stadium gets its safety certificate ahead of the ground’s first Super League game on February 10.

Saints chairman Eamonn McManus said: “Everything is on schedule for the Widnes game which will be going through to secure the safety certificate for the stadium.

“I think we will have one the safest roofs in the world (now). If the damage was to happen it was best that it did happen now (before the season starts). The contractor is on with the job.

“They will finish refitting the roof within the week and the Widnes game is certainly going to happen. Every design, engineering and safety check known to man has been done.”

The roof damage has certainly done nothing to dampen down the anticipation building ahead of the historic first season at Langtree Park with 9,500 season tickets sold so far.

With another four weeks to go before the first home Super League game McManus remains hopeful of breaking the five-figure marker and that average attendances will double from last year, potentially, he believes, up to 14,000.

It has been a busy time for all involved at the club and 70 staff have now moved into Langtree Park, conferencing and hospitality facilities are coming together, and the fit-out of the stadium interior is continuing.

The club shop is open as is the ground floor Founder’s Cafe bar, which held its first function last week.

“Everyone is enthusiastic and we are very, very excited. It is the dawn of a new era,” said the chairman.

It is also a busy time for McManus, who will be playing an even greater role in leading the club following the departure of CEO Tony Colquitt.

McManus said: “I’m more hands on now and because the stadium is here I have more time freed up to spend at the club. I’m in the stadium day to day and have an office.

“We have a management team that responds directly to me.”