St Helens have improved mentally since last year, says Justin Holbrook

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

St Helens coach Justin Holbrook believes his side have learned how to handle the pressure of big occasions since falling short at the final hurdles in 2018.

The Saints progressed to the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup after cruising past Wakefield 48-10 at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Holbrook’s outfit lost in both the semi-finals of Super League and the Challenge Cup last year, but he thinks his players are mentally tougher this time around.

Speaking after their win over Wakefield, he said: “We can’t fix anything from last year because it is done.

“But we played well today and we have got an opportunity to go one better at Bolton and that’s our aim.

“We’ve earned that opportunity because we have played great to get there but it is still a long way off. It is seven weeks until the semi-finals now but we definitely want to go there and play well.

“We have played great in every big game we have played in this year so that’s a pleasing thing for me as a coach.”

The semi-finals will take place at the University of Bolton Stadium on Saturday, June 27.

The Women’s Challenge Cup final will turn the event into a triple header, and Holbrook is a big fan of the occasion.

He added: “I think it was a great day in general last year.

“To get the two semi-finals on one day is great. Neutrals can go and see a couple of great games of rugby league and what is on offer for the teams involved is Wembley, so it’s a terrific day for everyone in our game.

“The Challenge Cup is fantastic. The Super League season runs for a long time and we play a lot of games but to throw the excitement of the Challenge Cup in the middle of it is great. To play in the excitement of a knockout game is good to be part of.

“We want to win the semi-finals and get to Wembley. I can’t be more excited about the Challenge Cup, especially with the way it is run, so I think it’s great.”

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