Despite last night’s damaging home defeat to Catalans Dragons, Jamie Jones-Buchanan believes that St Helens aren’t out of the fight for glory in 2023.
With a Challenge Cup semi-final against Leigh Leopards to come next week, the chances of Saints making it a ‘five-peat’ in Super League took another knock as they lost out 14-12 to the French side who currently sit top.
Tries from Mark Percival and Lewis Dodd weren’t enough to prevent a seventh league defeat this term, the most for any St Helens team since 2017.
Paul Wellens’ side are third in the standings, but will slip to fourth tonight regardless of the result between Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves. They have eight games left to play before the play-offs get underway.
Jamie Jones-Buchanan not writing off St Helens
Speaking post-match on Sky Sports, Jones-Buchanan was still confident that Wellens’ side had in it them to go all the way.
The pundit himself was part of a ‘golden generation’ at Leeds Rhinos, winning four Grand Finals.
He said: “I played in a team in 2015 that lost nine games but still managed to finish top and go on to get the treble done.
“You never, ever write the Saints off. I think that’s their seventh defeat this year, but it’s still all on for them.
“That’s what Paul Wellens needs to be saying to his players this week ahead of a big semi-final.”
Paul Wellens’ tool box
As well as losing the game itself, St Helens last night lost James Roby and try scorer Percival.
The pair both failed Head Injury Assessments after taking knocks, and will have to sit out for 11 days. Accordingly, boss Wellens will have to re-jig his squad about for next week’s semi-final. 41-year-old Jones-Buchanan doesn’t see that as too much of an issue.
“They’re both real leaders, players that are influential on and off the pitch, and they’re key to the overall operation.
“Saints are going to have to deal without these two players though, and I thought [Joey] Lussick was great tonight when he came on.
“I truly think they’ve got all the tools they need to get on with the job.”