All change as Saints need win

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The Independent Online

It has been the most turbulent of weeks for St Helens. The reigning Super League champions began it by being thrashed at Hull - a defeat that further exposed some of the weaknesses in their squad.

By the end of it, they had been docked two points for breaching last year's salary cap, signed a badly-needed new prop, told one of their most long-serving and popular players that he was no longer wanted, and made three of their young squad members available if other clubs wanted them.

It has not been a boring few days, and it will get more interesting still should they lose at Warrington today and slip out of the play-off places.

It was the nature of the defeat at Hull that forced Saints' hand on the question of a new prop. They have been misguided in believing that they had enough power up front this year, and the arrival of Keith Mason from Melbourne will go a long way to addressing that.

Saints are appealing against their points deduction for what they describe as "a technical breach" of their salary cap, while the decisions not to offer Tommy Martyn a new contract and to release Tim Jonkers, Mark Edmondson and John Kirkpatrick is a gesture towards living within their means.

Kirkpatrick has already joined Halifax on loan, and there will surely be no shortage of takers for two promising young forwards. Un- loading Jonkers, in particular, looksa knee-jerk reaction.

One way or another, Warrington will sense an opportunity to benefit fromSaints' disarray this afternoon, but they will have to play a lot better than they did against Castleford last weekend.

It has also been a bad week for the London Broncos, who sacked their winger Dominic Peters after he was banned for a year by the Rugby League for testing positive for an anabolic steroid. It is particularly unfortunate that it should be Peters, the Broncos' one notable local product, who should be caught cheating in this way. After a long time out with injury, he had been showing glimpses of his old form, but it must now be doubtful whether he can rehabilitate himself.

London are at Bradford today, and could be the latest side to suffer from the Bulls' surge of form. With Leeds showing signs of wobbling and Saints hobbled, Bradford are looking more and more like rock-solid prospects for the title this year.