St Helens forward Morgan Knowles has been forced to withdraw from their match against St George Illawarra Dragons through illness.
Saints coach Paul Wellens will give game time to every player in his squad against St George Illawarra Dragons apart from Knowles.
The England enforcer is a late withdrawal for the Saints, having been “under the weather” in the build up to the game on Saturday.
Knowles’ absence gives an opportunity to Scotland international James Bell, who replaces him in the loose forward role.
Speaking of his team selection ahead of their NRL pre-season challenge game against the Dragons, Wellens said: “We wanted to field the strongest team possible. Unfortunately one guy hasn’t made it in Morgan Knowles.
“He has been a little bit under the weather this week. Given the fact we’ve got a really important game next week, if he goes out there today and plays not 100%, then it could knock back his recovery by a few days so we took the sensible approach with Morgan. But other than that, everyone is raring to go and looking forward to the challenge.”
— St.Helens R.F.C. (@Saints1890) February 11, 2023
James Bell comes in for Morgan Knowles
Bell joined the Super League champions ahead of last season from Leigh. He has made 17 appearances in the Red Vee so far.
Wellens said: “Since he has come back into the team in pre-season he has been outstanding with the way he has gone about his work.
“He can obviously bring something a little different to the team as well with his skill set, so we’re looking forward to see Belly out there and he’s obviously champing at the bit at the opportunity he’s been given.”
The Dragons friendly is only Wellens’ second game in charge of his hometown club as head coach.
Wellens added: “I’m extremely excited, but I’m more excited for the players.
“It’s a great opportunity for them to come out here and show what they are about. We started pre-season back in England and continued that hard work over here and now it’s time to put it into action on the field.”