Shenton eyes Saints revival
St Helens centre Michael Shenton became a father for the first time this week, but admits even that life-changing experience failed to take his mind off his team’s early-season struggles in Stobart Super League.
Shenton, whose partner gave birth to an eight-pound daughter Sadie at a Wakefield hospital, is hoping to savour his first win of the year when Saints take on Bradford Bulls at Odsal this evening.
He was still recovering from a dislocated shoulder when St Helens began the season with wins over London Broncos and Salford City Reds, and has seen his side pick up just one point from the four games in which he has played.
“It’s so hard to take your mind off it,” he said. “All rugby players take it to heart when it’s so tough. You wonder what you can do better to get some performances.
“The club deserves a lot better, but everyone is trying so hard. It’s just a few things on the field that are costing us.”
Saints, Grand Finalists in each of the last six years, are currently out of the top eight, but Shenton is convinced they can quickly turn around their fortunes.
“I know the fans are restless and we’re in a rut at the minute, but sometimes you can bond really tight,” he said.
“Starting with Bradford, let’s start the season again, get a bit of a run on and get some quality performances.
“It’s a long season. If we get a few results together, people won’t remember this spell.
“We had a few bad defeats this time last year, Harlequins came to our place and dominated us, and we know we can turn it around with the quality of personnel we have.
“It’s a simple game and we’re making it too complicated. Let’s just get back to the basics because we can win games that way.”
Shenton is hoping a string of good performances can nudge England coach Steve McNamara after he was left out of his elite training squad, but admits getting back in the national team is not a priority.
“It’s never nice to be dropped,” he said. “I still want to be involved, it’s brilliant playing for your country.
“But St Helens is the most important thing at the minute. England is quite a way off now and I’ll put that to the back of my mind.”
In Saturday’s other game, Catalan Dragons will be aiming to stay in touch with leaders Huddersfield Giants when they host Hull KR in Perpignan.
Rovers are without centre Jake Webster through injury, but coach Craig Sandercock will keep changes to a minimum despite a run of just one win in their last four matches.
“I don’t want to go and drop players for poor performance when I know that they can play better,” he said. “They will get that chance to play better.”
The Dragons’ Tongan international forward Lopeni Paea goes face to face with younger brother Mickey, who is in his first season with Hull KR.