Having named a youthful squad for Friday night’s trip to Castleford Tigers, Kristian Woolf has given an injury update on a trio of his regular St Helens’ first-teamers.
Head coach Woolf has so far seen his side lose just one game in 2022, that to Super League newcomers Toulouse Olympique, and they currently top the table in search of a fourth straight Grand Final win.
This weekend’s 21-man squad though includes nine potential debutants for Saints with an average age of under 22 even with the inclusion of Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook (36), Kyle Amor (34) and James Bell (27).
If those three are removed the average age of the squad plunges to 20, it’s also raised by the fact that centre Ben Davies turns 22 today and retains his place. Woolf has provided some relief for the coming weeks which Saints fans will be pleased to hear though.
“[Regan Grace] is coming along really well,” Woolf said.
“He’s been doing his running, some extreme running, as part of his rehabilitation and recovery. He’s in a really good position and he’ll be available again in the next week or two.
“Sione [Mata’utia] is in the same boat too, he’s a week or two away as well.
“With Will [Hopoate] he’s come here and had the opportunity to be in a team that’s having a bit of success but unfortunately, he’s had a number of injuries that have stopped him from being a part of it as much as he’d have liked.
“He’s in a really good place as well though. He’s done a lot of metres and high-speed metres at that, so he was possibly in a position to be considered for Friday. Given that he’s had a couple of smaller niggles, we thought it was smart to give him another week.”
As well as those injuries, Saints are without Curtis Sironen – who is still suspended after picking up a two-match ban – and Konrad Hurrell who received the same punishment after last week’s derby win over Wigan Warriors.
Lewis Dodd has also been ruled out for the season with an achilles injury while Morgan Knowles is absent due to the concussion protocols.
In a stark contrast, the average age of Castleford’s side is 28.3. The Tigers’ youngest named player is Jason QareQare at 18, followed by Brad Martin at 21. After that though, it jumps to 23 (Jake Trueman) and there are 12 of the 21 aged 30 or above.
Saints boss Woolf though remained confident in the ability of his young squad, adding: “They’re good players.
“It’s great that we’re playing against a full-strength Cas side because it means that we get a real opportunity to see how some of these younger guys hold up. They’re getting a real opportunity.
“The older players know what being a Saints player looks like. They’re going to have to set an example for the young guys.”