St Helens head coach Paul Wellens provides injury update on forward duo

Ben Olawumi
Joe Batchelor, Matty Lees

Joe Batchelor (left) & Matty Lees (right) look set to make their St Helens returns this weekend - Alamy

Forward pair Joe Batchelor & Matty Lees are set to make their returns for St Helens at Headingley on Friday night, as confirmed by head coach Paul Wellens this afternoon.

Second-rower Batchelor is yet to make a competitive appearance in 2024 having sustained a collarbone injury in the Red V’s pre-season friendly against Salford Red Devils at the beginning of February.

Prop Lees meanwhile ended up with a bleed on his lung after picking up a knock during Saints‘ Round 2 victory at Huddersfield Giants.

Forced off in the first half of that clash at the John Smith’s Stadium, he was taken to hospital with his oxygen percentage dropping, and though he was released the same night having been given the all clear, hasn’t featured since.

Both are back in the mix for a Round 5 showdown with Leeds Rhinos on Friday evening however, the first of a double-header against the same opponents having also been paired with Rohan Smith’s side in last night’s Challenge Cup Sixth Round draw.

READ NEXT: Grading every Super League club’s start to the 2024 season

St Helens head coach Paul Wellens provides injury update on forward duo Joe Batchelor & Matty Lees

Speaking in his pre-match press conference this afternoon, Saints boss Wellens said: “Joe’s trained with the squad today, so we’ll assess him over the next 24 hours, but he’s feeling confident.

“If he scrubs up well in the morning, he’s likely to come back into the 17.

“Matty Lees is another in contention, he’s trained with the squad today again, so all being well it’ll be great to get him back.

“He’s a guy who brings a tonne of energy, and he’s a player whose energy is infectious.

“When he’s on the field doing what he’s doing, he’s actually giving energy to the people around him as well because he’s a player who – for a number of years now – has worked tirelessly on those effort areas of the game.

“He does a lot of stuff that probably goes unnoticed by a lot of people, but certainly not by myself or his team-mates. Getting Matty back and getting him playing well over a consistent period of time is going to be really important for the team.

“Joe’s the same, absolutely. Batch is someone who adds quality to the team, someone that the other players have a lot of respect for because of the way he goes about his business, not just on the field, but off it as well.

“Batch has shown – ever since he got his opportunity in the team – that he adds value in his own unique way.

“Quite often when you watch the highlight reels, you don’t see a lot of Joe Batchelor, but you watch the game back in terms of all the detailed stuff, and he’s invariably been one of the best players on the field.

“It’s great to hopefully get Joe back this weekend because when we do have Joe anywhere near his best, he improves us as a team.”

READ NEXT: Super League Casualty Ward – How all 12 clubs are performing injury-wise with updates from the treatment room