Shaun McRae, whose credentials include assisting Bob Fulton on two Kangaroo tours, is now expected to arrive from Australia on Monday, by which time Saints could have underlined the progress made under the sacked Eric Hughes by finishing behind only Wigan and Leeds in this last winter season.
Halifax stand in their way and Saints will not be helped by the likely absence of Paul Newlove with a recurrence of his foot injury, as well as the suspended Scott Gibbs.
Halifax's recent form has defied their own injury toll, with young players like Craig Dean and Chris Chester performing far better than anyone had the right to expect. Dean, 19, has played admirably in the scrum-half role left vacant by Wayne Parker, but the most startling impact has been made by the 17-year-old Chester, who has been playing with astonishing poise and maturity.
Halifax will hope to take advantage of Saints' upheavals. To finish third with the depleted squad Steve Simms has had at his disposal will be a most encouraging sign for the Super League season that lies ahead.
Halifax will have their prop Wayne Jackson available. He has been found not guilty of the punching offence for which he was sent off against Warrington last week.
The Wigan captain, Shaun Edwards, will face a disciplinary committee next week following Bradford Bulls' complaint over a tackle that left their scrum-half, Robbie Paul, concussed.
Leeds, Wigan's opponents tomorrow, will be without their prop, Harvey Howard, whose appeal against a two-match ban for a high tackle failed yesterday. James Lowes switches to scrum-half, with Mick Shaw starting at hooker in a game that will have an inevitable air of "what might have been" for Leeds.Reuse content