Potter ready for tough Saints test
Bradford Bulls coach Mick Potter does not expect his old St Helens team to be disadvantaged by the Origin International when they visit Odsal in Engage Super League tomorrow evening.
England’s James Graham, Jon Wilkin and Michael Shenton are all expected to play their second games in 48 hours, along with Exiles trio Francis Meli, Sia Soliola and Tony Puletua, as fourth-placed Saints aim to keep up the pressure on leaders Warrington Wolves.
“It could mean they have some players either fatigued or missing but I want them to have their best team out on the field,” said Potter, who moved from Knowsley Road to Odsal in the close season.
“The players are very resilient, having known them for a couple of years, and I don’t think they will be any easier to beat because of Friday’s game.”
The Bulls have hauled themselves back into contention for the play-offs with consecutive wins and, with the influential Brett Kearney set to make his comeback from a broken hand, Potter believes it would be a good time to take on St Helens.
“We are moving in the right direction,” he said. “We played well in the Wigan game and then we have come away from the last two games playing solid and the players are feeling a lot more confident.”
Like Bradford, Hull KR have enjoyed a disruption-free week of preparation for their trip to Leeds with no representation in the Origin match and coach Justin Morgan is hoping that will help them complete the double over the Rhinos.
“They’ll have a number of players backing up from the Origin match and sometimes that can galvanise a team,” he said.
“We haven’t got anybody involved so we’ve got a smooth week in terms of preparation and we look forward to going there and trying to do the double over them.”
Rovers have won their last three matches against Leeds but their only League success away from Craven Park this year was on the opening weekend in Cardiff.
“We always enjoy playing against Leeds,” added Morgan. “Their form hasn’t been great over the past fortnight or so but form is temporary and class is permanent.
Huddersfield Giants coach Nathan Brown is confident his side can cope without Danny Brough as they head to lowly Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
Brown has called up 21-year-old Kyle Wood as a replacement for the prolific Brough, who has been ruled out for eight weeks with an ankle injury.
“As one door closes for somebody, another one opens,” he said. “Kyle is a young player who has been waiting patiently for a year or so to get a shot.”
The match will mark the 300th career appearance of the Giants’ former Wigan Warriors winger David Hodgson.
Elsewhere, Rangi Chase, the outstanding stand-off in Super League XVI so far, will be looking to carry on from his man-of-the-match performance for the Exiles when Castleford Tigers host champions Wigan, who expect to field all seven players involved in yesterday’s game at Headingley.
Warrington, too, hope to play their seven Origin representatives against Salford City Reds, although coach Tony Smith has taken the precaution or recalling forwards Lee Mitchell and Tyrone McCarthy from their loan spells at Harlequins RL and Wakefield respectively.
The free-scoring Wolves ran up 60 points without reply when they met the Reds on Good Friday but hooker Mickey Higham is urging caution this time.
“When Salford are on form they can put on some points,” he said. “I saw them take Bradford to the cleaners one game. They had a decent win last weekend, so they can attack and score some points.
“But, if we play anything like we have been doing, we’ll be confident.”
Hull FC are fancied to complete the double over another struggling outfit, Harlequins, but the Londoners are something of a bogey team for Richard Agar’s men, having shared the honours in 34 previous Super League fixtures, with 16 wins apiece and two draws.
“The Londoners always proved to be tough opposition for us and it will be no different this time around,” said Agar.