No extra pressure for resting Saints

St Helens coach Nathan Brown says there is no added pressure on them to deliver in Super League this season, following their early exit from the Challenge Cup.

The table-toppers have a weekend off due to the quarter-finals of rugby league’s oldest competition, having bowed out at the hands of Leeds in the fifth round.

It leaves Saints with just the league to focus on, as they look to finish top for the first time since 2008 and end an eight-year wait for a Grand Final victory.

Brown said: “I think whether we were in the Cup or not, internally we’ve got high hopes for ourselves and I think St Helens, like a number of other clubs externally, and from the fans, there’s always a pressure to do well. 

“I think regardless of being out of one competition, I don’t think it adds any extra pressure. 

“We’ve got quite passionate fans and obviously a chairman and a board that’s seen a lot of success and probably only a couple of players that have come through the era of a lot of success at St Helens, so now it’s about preparing the younger players and the players that have come into the squad from other clubs to obviously demand that of each other.”

Leeds’ defeat to Warrington coupled with Saints’ comfortable home victory over Salford lifted Brown’s men back to the Super League summit after 15 games, and despite the disappointment of not still being in the cup, the ability to give the players a bit of a rest is a timely one for the Australian.

He added: “Being where we are in the table is quite pleasing but we’re quite comfortable with the fact that we know where we’re at and we know if we want to get to Old Trafford, if we’re being quite blunt about it there’s some areas of the game where we are showing signs of improvement but we need to continue to improve in.

“Everyone’s had a few days off. Everyone’s had a chance to have four days off and freshen up and get over bumps and bruises and the rehab and medical staff have probably been working a fair bit of overtime so they haven’t had much of a break and neither have the players who have been injured, but the players who are fully fit and healthy at this stage have had a small break and will be back in tomorrow. 

“There’s a long way to go still and there’s a lot of blokes who are putting a lot in on the field and a lot in at training. Like everyone, there’s a lot of people playing at a lot of clubs with bumps and bruises, and if you are unfortunate enough to be out of the Cup then it does give you the chance to freshen up and get over a few niggling injuries.”

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