Wellens expecting Leeds at their best

St Helens skipper Paul Wellens knows that taking Challenge Cup winners Leeds lightly on Friday night at Headingley would be a big mistake.

The Rhinos may have celebrated their Wembley win, but Wellens believes they have enough experience to not be suffering a Super League hangover by the time the teams clash.

“Leeds are a great side. They’ve got some great players there, and they’re a side I have a lot of respect for,” he said.

“A lot of people would point to them playing in the Challenge Cup at the weekend and see that as an advantage for us.

“But we can’t look at it like that. When you look at the Leeds squad, they are blessed with experienced players who know how to deal with practically any situation that’s thrown at them.

“I’m sure the likes of Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock, Rob Burrow and Danny McGuire will know what’s required from their team this week, and we’re preparing to play a Leeds side who are at their best.”

St Helens have been hit hard by injury during this campaign, disrupting their team structure. The free weekend due the Challenge Cup final has been a useful interlude for the squad, however.

“We’ve been training hard and preparing for what what will be a tough, challenging finish to the season,” Wellens added.

“A lot’s been made over recent weeks of the players we’re missing through injury. Obviously, Luke Walsh‘s injury has put him out for the rest of the season.

“So what we’ve had to do is reshuffle a few things, re-jig a few players around, and come up with something that will suit us better towards the end of the season.

“We’ve spent a fair bit of time on the training ground getting to grips with that.

“Being out of the Challenge, given the injury situation, was probably a bit of a blessing for us, in that we could spend a lot of time on the training field getting to grips with the new combinations that we’ve come up with.

“Credit to the players, they’ve really taken it on board, working hard for each other and things have worked out far better than we probably expected.”

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