St Helens boosted by return of James Bentley

Drew Darbyshire

James Bentley is set to return for St Helens this week

St Helens forward James Bentley is set to return from a lengthy injury lay-off against Castleford on Thursday.

The Ireland international has not featured since breaking his leg in their win over Leigh back in April but he recently returned to training and is fit enough to be included in Kristian Woolf’s 21-man squad this week.

Prop Matty Lees has also completed his return to play protocols following his head injury against Hull and returns to the squad, but England international Morgan Knowles misses out.

Dan Norman has joined Salford on loan so he drops out of Woolf’s squad, as does Sam Royle.

Castleford coach Daryl Powell has made three changes to his squad that won at Leeds last week. Liam Watts, Cheyse Blair and George Griffin are all back in contention.

Alex Foster and Brad Graham drop out for this game, as does Jimmy Keinhorst who completed his two-week loan with the Tigers and is now back with Hull KR.

The game is a repeat of the Challenge Cup final which took place at Wembley just under a month ago, with reigning Super League champions Saints produce a fight back in the second half to win 26-12.

St Helens: Coote, Makinson, Naiqama, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Thompson, Bentley, Mata’utia, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Amor, Paasi, Welsby, Smith, Batchelor, Dodd, Simm, Davies.

Castleford: Evalds, Olpherts, Mata’utia, Richardson, Watts, McShane, Millington, Holmes, Blair, Milner, Massey, Griffin, Hepi, Clare, Sene-Lefao, Smith, Eden, Matagi, Turner, Bienek, O’Brien.

The televised Super League clash takes place at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Thursday, 7:45pm kick-off.

Also, St Helens have signed Tonga star Will Hopoate on a two-year deal from the 2022 season.

The 29-year-old centre or full-back will join the reigning Super League champions from NRL side Canterbury Bulldogs.

Hopoate – who has made 172 NRL appearances for Manly, Parramatta and Canterbury – has won 11 caps for Tonga and captained the nation in the 2017 World Cup. He has also represented New South Wales five times in State of Origin.