First thing you’re told is “beat every team beginning with a W”

James Gordon

St Helens prop Alex Walmsley says coach Kristian Woolf won’t need telling about the intensity of games against Warrington ahead of their Super League meeting on Thursday night.

In Woolf’s first away game in charge, they travel to the Halliwell Jones Stadium in a repeat of last season’s Challenge Cup final, where the Wolves sprung a surprise by beating Saints at Wembley.

There are just nine miles between the home of the two clubs, a far cry from what Woolf has experienced in his home country.

Walmsley said: “He knows about the intensity. I know when I signed for Saints, the first thing I was told was you’ve got to beat every team with a W and I think he’s had the same talk as well!

“They’re obviously big games for us, the Wigan and Warrington games are particularly a step above the other games. They’re our two closest rivals, and in recent years Warrington have really pushed us and we’ve pushed them as well.

“They’ve always been close, big, tight, physical games and I don’t think Thursday is any different.”

Warrington opened the season with defeat at Wigan, but came out of it with plenty of positives, having pushed the Warriors all the way despite playing three quarters of the game with 12 men, and 10 minutes with 11.

The following night, Saints were ruthless in dispatching of Salford 48-8 in a repeat of the Grand Final in October.

Walmsley added: “We run out convincing winners, but by no means was it an easy game. It was a tough game and something we really wanted as well, having only played one pre-season.

“Kristian has come in and he’s found some key areas we need to improve on without signing players.

“We’ve got some big games coming up and hopefully it will have put us in good stead.

“Warrington showed what a class side they are. I know they lost, but to compete how they did with 12 men for long periods and then 11 men, they still looked threatening and pushed Wigan close.

“They’re a tough team to beat. They’re an exceptionally talented team but they look like they’ve really got that grit in their teeth as well which is obviously going to add to the challenge.”