Paul Wellens has some ‘difficult decisions’ to make ahead of mouth-watering Leeds rematch

Josh McAllister
Paul Wellens St Helens News Images

Photo: James Heaton/News Images

St Helens head coach Paul Wellens says he has some difficult team selection decisions to make ahead of Friday’s televised clash with Leeds.

Australian back-rower Curtis Sironen returns to the 21-man squad after serving his one-match suspension, while Tonga international centre Konrad Hurrell has been cleared to play after missing the last two weeks due to a neck issue.

Captain James Roby, who was rested for the Challenge Cup sixth round tie against Halifax, has also been named alongside veteran forward Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook.

England international and loose forward Morgan Knowles will begin his two-match ban following his red card at the Shay last Friday, while fellow forward Matty Lees will serve his final game of suspension. 

Dan Norman and Wesley Bruines drop out of Wellens’ squad, with the St Helens boss prepared to make some tough decisions in a welcomed selection headache.

“We have Curtis come back into the squad this week and Konrad Hurrell returning, so a number of returnees which gives us a few options there,” Wellens said.

“I’ve been really pleased with how Ben Davies has gone in the centres since coming back. 

“We have a number of options and for the first time in a long time I’ve got some really difficult decisions to make as a coach in terms of who to have and who to have out of the 17. 

“There are some strong decisions to be made in the coming days. But as I’m sure most coaches would say, it’s a headache you’d prefer to have.”

Wellens also confirmed that starting centre Mark Percival is “very close” to making his return. 

Paul Wellens previews Leeds clash

It was a feisty 80 minutes in the reverse fixture in Round Three, with Rohan Smith’s Rhinos claiming a dramatic 25-24 victory in a game that included a red card for Hurrell and yellow cards to back-rowers Sione Mata’utia and Sironen.

Wellens is once again expecting a tough match at Headingley Stadium, with both sides having claimed six wins so far in the 2023 Super League campaign.

“Going to Headingley is always a really exciting challenge for any player,” said Wellens.

“It’s an environment that the players relish and it’s a genuine big game that excites players.

“What I’ve seen of Leeds in recent week is, at their best, a real competitiveness. That win at Wigan with 12-men was probably one of the stand-out performances in Super League history, to claw back a deficit like that against a team like Wigan.

“We’re preparing for Leeds at their best and knowing going to Headingley is a huge challenge for us and we’re going to have to play well.”

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