Soliola out for year has Saints stretched

St Helens have suffered a major blow to their Super League prospects with the loss for the season of Sia Soliola. The Kiwi centre/second row ruptured the patella ligament in his knee in training and has been told he will not play again this year.

"This is a real blow and we are naturally disappointed for Sia," said Saints' coach Mick Potter. Soliola (above), capped 11 times by New Zealand, arrived from the Sydney Roosters this winter on a three-year contract, but damaged his ankle on his debut. He came through his comeback against Warrington last Friday, but then suffered the freak, season-ending injury this week.

His absence will leave Potter short of options although the coach put an optimistic gloss on the news by insisting that, like last season, young players can fill the void.

The club's back-up resources have already been tested, especially by a crop of injuries in the backs. The latest set-back is the loss of Paul Wellens for a month with a torn thigh muscle.