St Helens head coach Kristian Woolf says he will field the strongest side possible for their trip to Whitehaven in the sixth round of the Challenge Cup.
The current cup holders enter the competition for the first time in 2022 alongside 10 other Super League clubs – Toulouse the only one not participating.
Their title defence begins with a trip to Cumbria to face Championship outfit Whitehaven. Jonty Gorley’s side have defeated Doncaster and York to reach the sixth round of the Challenge Cup. They sit 10th in the league table with two wins, but all league form is put to the side for the knock-out competition.
St Helens will name their 21-man squad at midday, and Woolf is expected to name his strongest side possible.
“We need to throw the strongest team that we can out. It’s an important game,” Woolf said during his pre-match media duties.
“We want to be playing in the big Challenge Cup games in a few weeks time. We can’t take things for chance so we need to throw out the strongest team that we can and we need to really respect our opposition.
“I think that’s what the game deserves and I think the area of Whitehaven deserves. That’s what we owe to ourselves as well. We didn’t play well last week and we’re not happy with a number of things so it’s important that we leave the field happy this weekend.”
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Kristian Woolf: ‘We know it’s going to be a great atmosphere’
Whitehaven are hoping to pack out the Recreation Ground for Saturday’s tie. The game, with a 2:00pm kick off, will be streamed live on The Sportsman.
Woolf added: “I think it’s something everyone is really looking forward to. That’s something that we’ve spoken about. We know that it’s going to be a great reception up there. We’re really looking forward to getting there. We know it’s going to be a great atmosphere and really well supported. We can’t wait.
“I think they’re going to make it as hard as they possibly can. I think they’re going to play the best they possibly can play.
“It’s a great opportunity for them and it’s a great opportunity for individuals in the team and for the club as well and the area.
“They’ll certainly want to make the most of it and play their best footy and we’re expecting a great crowd, but one that doesn’t necessarily support us and might want to try and influence the game as well and that’s all part of the challenge and the excitement.
“One thing our players really enjoy is a good atmosphere and whether it’s a pro crowd or a negative crowd, the atmosphere and crowd are a part of the game and that makes it exciting.”