Wellens beats the drum as Saints aim to bounce back
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Saturday 24 March 2012
St Helens' captain, Paul Wellens, believes his side can start rebuilding its confidence tomorrow in the first match under a new regime. Five matches without a win cost Royce Simmons his job as head coach at the start of the week and Saints face the formidable challenge of Leeds, who beat them in last year's Grand Final, with the caretaker combination of Mike Rush and Keiron Cunningham in charge.
The feeling in the Saints camp is that the games they lost could have been won with a different mental approach. "Confidence is always an issue when you lose big matches," Wellens said. "Players become anxious, snatching at passes and trying to rush things. That's probably what's happened to us."
Significantly, Saints should have James Roby back, after three weeks out with a knee injury, while Jonny Lomax, Ade Gardner and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook are all in with a chance. Jamie Foster, whose confidence must be at a low ebb following his traumatic game at Bradford last week, is taken out of the firing line.
Leeds have the latest product of their abundant junior development programme ready to make his debut at Langtree Park. Stevie Ward, 18, is a stand-off or back-rower who is still at school and studying for his 'A' levels.
At the other end of the age scale, the Rhinos' England captain, Jamie Peacock, has set a date for his retirement – but not until 2014. Peacock has agreed a two-year contract extension that will take him close to his 37th birthday.
In tomorrow's other games, the Super League leaders before last night's games, Huddersfield, may have to regain top position at Hull KR. Bradford have Jarrod Sammut back from suspension against Salford, while London Broncos, away to Widnes, bring two of their young, local players into their squad in Kieran Dixon and Omari Caro; Michael Robertson and Jason Golden are injured.
Danny Orr is back for Castleford, who go in search of their first victory since the opening day of the season against Hull, who set out their stall for next season this week by signing the much sought-after Gareth Ellis. Wakefield, who also pursued him, are at home to the Catalan Dragons.
The former Great Britain forward, Lee Crooks, has joined Featherstone Rovers as general manager. He will work alongside Rovers' coach, Daryl Powell, in preparing the club for a push for Super League.
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