St Helens coach Paul Wellens has provided positive news on the injury front, with a quadruple boost in the returns to fitness of Will Hopoate, Konrad Hurrell, Dan Norman and George Delaney.
The two Tongan internationals in that quarter both missed the entirety of August, with 31-year-old Hopoate not featuring at all since July 28 having suffered a reoccurrence of a hamstring injury. He’s been limited to just 16 appearances so far in 2023, and remains off-contract come the end of the year.
Hurrell also missed the entirety of August having suffered a torn calf in the early stages of their win against former employers Leeds Rhinos on July 28. When he returned against Wakefield Trinity in Round 24, he also endured a recurrence with a fresh blow to his calf, but both are now set for returns to action.
Third-placed Saints host Hull FC on Friday night at the Totally Wicked Stadium in a game which they must win to have any hopes of breaking into the top two. Even a win may not be enough, with at least one of Catalans Dragons and Wigan Warriors needing to slip up. If both of those clubs were to lose their games against the odds, the Red Vee could retain the League Leaders’ Shield.
St Helens receive quadruple injury boost ahead of play-offs
Looking ahead to that game against the Black and Whites, boss Wellens said: “The last few days has largely been around recovery. We had a light training session yesterday, I picked up the pace in the training session we had today, but again didn’t spend too long out there because I want the players getting out on the field on Friday as fresh as possible.
“It’s that stage of the year, we need to be smart with how we deal with the players and certainly take into account the amount that they put into the game last weekend, which has left a few people with sore bodies.
“[Hurrell and Hopoate] are both in with a chance of playing this week, they’re two guys that have trained on-field with the team today.
“They trained really well, and obviously we’ll have to monitor their response in the next 24 hours, but all being well one – or maybe even both – will play at the weekend.”
Leigh Leopards target Norman and youngster Delaney are also set for returns to the squad for Friday night’s Round 27 clash.
Ireland international Norman took a blow to the head late on against Wakefield, failed a subsequent HIA and in turn missed a home game against Leigh as well as the trip to Warrington Wolves. Delaney also failed a HIA, his during the home clash with the Leopards, and missed out last week against the Wolves as a result.
Wellens confirmed their returns: “Dan’s passed his concussion protocol this morning, so he’s available to play as is George Delaney.
“It obviously gives us more options there, and both of those have trained with us on the field today as well.”
Overseas back-rower comes through okay
Forward Curtis Sironen made his own return from an injury lay-off in the win at Warrington, scoring the opening try early on.
After an impressive performance, Wellens highlighted the Australian’s importance in his post-match press conference, and did so again in the build-up to the regular season finale with confirmation he had come through his first game back unscathed.
The boss added: “He showed his quality, and obviously we’ve had to look after him in terms of reducing his playing time there coming off the back of the injury, but he’ll hopefully get a bit more time out on the field this week.
“Like I’ve mentioned, he shows his quality every time he pulls on a jersey, it’s just that we need him out there and playing well consistently because he’s important for us.”