Paul Wellens insists St Helens still believe they have a case to overturn Matty Lees’ two-match suspension, as they prepare for a second appeal against the ban tonight.
Lees was banned for two games following a Grade C high tackle charge during an incident in the Saints’ win over Huddersfield last Sunday.
The club appealed that ban on Tuesday evening, with Lees pleading not guilty, but an independent tribunal upheld the decision, fining Lees £500 to boot.
However, Wellens and Lees will return for a second appeal on Wednesday evening, adamant they still have a case to free him to play against Hull KR on Friday – with the Saints only naming a 20-man squad, and leaving a hole deliberately for Lees to fill if he is available.
And when asked if they felt they had a case, the Saints coach told Love Rugby League: “We would never go into something like this just shooting at thin air.
“We have respect for the case that’s ongoing and as such, I don’t feel it’s right that I comment too much.
“Except to say we will be appealing but as it stands right here, right now, we’ve prepared without Matty.”
St Helens boss discusses options to fill void if Matty Lees appeal is unsuccessful
Wellens insists he has a number of options to fill any potential void left by a second failed appeal. They include the returning James Bell, Sione Mata’utia plus youngsters Lewis Baxter and Dan Norman.
That victory against Huddersfield last Sunday moved the reigning champions up to joint-second heading into the final six games of the season, with a top-two finish still very much on the cards.
And Wellens admitted he was ‘extremely satisfied’ with where his side sit going into the business end of the year.
He said: “I pay a huge credit to the team because it’s been a very different year, we’ve had a lot to deal with.
“The Australia trip at the start of the year, plus a fair few suspensions which we take responsibility for.
“Injuries have hit us which has been a challenge but throughout all that, the group have stayed strong and stuck together and won games.”