Salford Red Devils full-back Ryan Brierley believes St Helens are coming good at the right time of the season, naming experienced heads Mark Percival and Tommy Makinson as two key reasons for that.
Centre Percival kicked five goals and crossed for a try in Saints’ 34-4 win at Castleford Tigers last Friday night, taking him past 1,000 points for the Red Vee, and tallying his 100th Super League try in the process.
Makinson meanwhile was hailed by boss Paul Wellens earlier this year as ‘one of the best wingers in the world’. The 31-year-old is fast approaching 200 tries for the club, and has already surpassed the 1,000 point mark in Saints’ colours.
Ryan Brierley sings praises of veteran St Helens duo
Red Devils ace Brierley is hoping to help guide the Greater Manchester outfit into the play-offs for a second year running.
Saints were the team who ended their Grand Final ambitions last year, beating them at the semi-final stage before going on to see off Leeds Rhinos at Old Trafford, and make it four in a row, the first club to ever achieve that in the Super League era.
Discussing the Red Vee as a guest on BBC’s Super League Show, Scotland international Brierley said: “It’s all coming together at the right time of the year. They’re well rehearsed for this time of the year as well, and that’s probably the scary thing.
“Every team will obviously look to knock them off their pedestal but they’ve been here so many times before and they know what it takes to win games.
“It’s never the fancy stuff with St Helens, it’s always the tough stuff, and the mentality – they can go harder and longer than any other team. That’s a real credit to the organisation.
“Weirdly, for a four-time champion, they’re really underrated this year. When we’ve played them this year, both times, you notice a difference when you’re playing against St Helens.
“It’s a different level of intensity, and I think Mark Percival and Tommy Makinson are freakishly good at what they do.”
Salford Red Devils ace discusses play-off race
Before Salford can dream of making the short trip to Old Trafford this year, they first need to secure themselves a spot in the top six.
After last weekend’s results, the picture now looks slightly clearer, and it would appear to be two from three between themselves, Hull KR and Warrington Wolves.
At present, Brierley and co. are only above 7th-placed KR by virtue of points percentage, so it’s no surprise he’s been checking the ladder a hell of a lot.
He added: “It’s exciting. It’s been one of the years where nobody has really known what’s going to happen at the end of it.
“As players, you’re hoping that some team beats another team and helps you, but it just really never happens like that. It’s really nerve wracking for us players, because we just don’t know what’s going to happen. Every result seems to have a lot riding on it.
“I look at them [results and tables] every week, and I think you have to. For me, when there’s so much riding on every game, you need to have a look at what’s going on around you, tae points difference for example.
“I’ve never known a year where points difference is going to be so crucial, and it’s something that we’ve spoken about at training going into games. Every point will be critical towards the end, and with how tight it is at the moment, I think it’ll be massive.
“What you’ll get at the moment, even if a team is losing, you’re going to get that effort right until the last second because every point could be crucial. It’s a crazy year.”