The Super League champions open their season by welcoming the highly-fancied Catalans Dragons to Langtree Park on Friday night.
Much of the focus for the game will be on the Dragons’ new signing, Australian stand-off Todd Carney. For all his troubled past, the former Kangaroo is class when it comes to rugby league, and much of Catalans’ hopes for sucess this season rest on his shoulders.
For Saints fans, the issue of how club legend Keiron Cunningham adjusts to being head coach after a season as assistant will be key to their hopes of success.
Saints will be keen to get off to a good start in this season where every minute matters. Jon Wilkin has taken over from Paul Wellens as skipper, while full-back Jonny Lomax should also make his long-awaited return from injury.
Scott Dureau is not fit, however, as he has a groin strain.
St Helens (19-man squad): Lomax, Makinson, Turner, Jones, Swift, Burns, Masoe, Roby, Amor, Vea, Wilkin, Walmsley, Flanagan, Hohaia, Percival, Richards, Wellens, Greenwood, Savelio.
Catalans Dragons (19-man squad): Escare, Duport, Pomeroy, Tonga, Oldfield, Carney, Elima, Henderson, Casty, Taia, Anderson, Mounis, Bosc, Lima, Pelissier, Whitehead, Garcia, Bousquet, Baitieri.
Prediction: This one should be very close, and it will be interesting to see what kind of effect Carney can exert. The Dragons rarely travel well, however, and Saints should edge it by six to ten points.
Super League Summary:
St Helens won 12 (includes win in 2014 play-offs)
Catalans Dragons won 8
St Helens highest score: 53-10 (H, 2007) (also widest margin)
Catalans Dragons highest score: 42-0 (H, 2014) (also widest margin)
Last 10 Meetings:
St Helens 30, Catalans Dragons 12 (SLQSF, 2/10/14)
Catalans Dragons 42, St Helens 0 (SLR16, 14/6/14)
St Helens 40, Catalans Dragons 22 (SLR5, 14/3/14)
Catalans Dragons 6, St Helens 26 (SLR23, 3/8/13)
St Helens 12, Catalans Dragons 22 (SLR12, 12/4/13)
Catalans Dragons 15, St Helens 20 (SLR21, 20/7/12)
St Helens 32, Catalans Dragons 34 (SLR4, 24/2/12)
St Helens 40, Catalans Dragons 18 (SLR22, 15/7/11)
Catalans Dragons 16, St Helens 22 (SLR4, 5/3/11)
St Helens 20, Catalans Dragons 30 (SLR21, 9/7/10)