Simmons plots Saints revival
St Helens coach Royce Simmons is confident his side can emerge from their early-season slump against Bradford Bulls at Odsal tomorrow.
The veteran Australian admits the team’s confidence has taken a battering in picking up just one point from their last four matches, but he believes the current adversity will only serve to strengthen their resolve.
“Everyone is shattered,” Simmons said. “Last week the dressing room was terrible, the worst I’ve seen outside last year’s Grand Final.
“Everyone was really down, including the whole staff, but I think we’ve got a real good opportunity with a lot of things against us to turn it into a positive thing.
“There are not too many people on our side right now but you go through some tough times and sometimes they can bring a side even closer together.
“I think the cosier they feel, probably the worse they play. I really think sometimes being under the pump finds the character in the team and this side has got good character.
“Everyone is very disappointed we’re not sitting on a lot more points but morale is still really good.
“The boys are training hard and we’re all still very positive we can get some momentum and get going. There’s no one pointing fingers at each other.”
Simmons’ predecessor Mick Potter, now in his second season with Bradford, has been surprised by Saints’ early-season wobble but claims it makes them even more dangerous.
“They are desperate to win a game and they will want to show that they are a team that can make another Grand Final,” said Potter.
“They are low in confidence and that makes them more dangerous against us this week. They’ll be at their best and we’ll have to account for them in that mode.
“It’s my job to worry and I am worried about the repercussions of what they’ve got in them.”
While St Helens, currently outside the top eight, have won just once away from home so far this year, the Bulls have yet to register a victory at Odsal, with all their three triumphs coming on their travels.
“We are desperate to get our first home win,” Potter added. “We want to win every game we play but the players want to give the fans something to cheer about at Odsal.
“We are heading in the right direction and we are going to do our best at the weekend.”
Bradford have France captain Olivier Elima making his first appearance of the season but prop Nick Scruton has become the sixth first-team regular to be sidelined after being told he needs a shoulder reconstruction.
Saints are still without James Roby and have a major doubt over scrum-half Jonny Lomax.
Former Bradford and St Helens favourite Leon Pryce will make the 400th appearance of his career in Catalan Dragons’ home game against Hull KR tomorrow, but Rovers coach Craig Sandercock has identified his half-back partner Scott Dureau as the main threat.
“I had a bit to do with Scott at Newcastle and he’s one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever coached,” Sandercock said.
“His vision is second to none, he just controls the game. He’s absolutely on fire. I’m pretty proud of the way he’s performing but hopefully he will have an off day.”
The Dragons’ highly-promising hooker Eloi Pelissier will make his first appearance of the season after recovering from a broken jaw while Tongan forward Lopini Paea goes face to face with younger brother Mickey, who is in his first season with Hull KR.