Super League: Monday’s talking points and team news

We look at what’s being said and team news ahead of Monday’s two Super League matches which see St Helens face Salford Red Devils and Leeds Rhinos take on Castleford Tigers, live on Sky Sports…

St Helens vs Salford Red Devils (5.30pm)

Since the Super League season resumed in August, defending champions St Helens have been near-on untouchable as they have moved to the top of the table on the back of 10 straight wins in the competition.

It is something of a turnaround from the pre-lockdown form which had seen Saints win just two of their five opening matches, although head coach Kristian Woolf ascribed that to some carry-over fatigue and the World Club Challenge.

Salford Red Devils vs St Helens

October 26, 2020, 5:25pm

Live on

A 40-8 win over a Challenge Cup winners Leeds Rhinos further strengthened their chances of claiming a third-straight League Leaders’ Shield and although they now face runners-up Salford on a two-day turnaround, Woolf is not letting up on those ambitions.

“It’d be a great achievement that’s for sure and it’s something we’d like to do and are aiming to do,” Woolf said.

“It is going to be difficult because there are so many games played in short periods and the fact of the matter is, you’re going to have to rotate people whether you like it or not.

“You’re going to have to rotate good players and that does make it hard to win every game, but it’s certainly something we’d love to do.”

With that in mind, Woolf is set to make several changes to his side ahead of the derby clash with Wigan this coming Friday as James Graham, Jack Ashworth, Joseph Paulo and Matty Costello return to the 21-man squad while there could be debuts for Jake Wingfield, Tom Nisbet and Matty Foster.

Salford have Dan Sarginson back after missing the Challenge Cup final with coronavirus, while Gil Dudson returns after sitting out the 58-12 defeat by Wigan on Friday through illness.

“To come down from such a massive high is something our players are not used to and we’re not lucky enough to be able to rest players,” Red Devils head coach Ian Watson said.

“We’ve said the performance was not good enough and we don’t want to make excuses, but we have no back up for middles, who are having to play two games a week.

“Wigan were fresh and ready to go and I thought they were really good. They put us under pressure and we lacked energy and leadership, which is probably down to the fatigue factor.”

St Helens: Tommy Makinson, Kevin Naiqama, Theo Fages, Alex Walmsley, Dom Peyroux, Morgan Knowles, Kyle Amor, Jack Ashworth, Joseph Paulo, Aaron Smith, James Bentley, Matty Costello, Jack Welsby, Joe Batchelor, Josh Eaves, Josh Simm, Lewis Dodd, Matty Foster, Tom Nisbet, Jake Wingfield, James Graham.

Salford Red Devils: Ed Chamberlain, Dan Sarginson, Krisnan Inu, Tui Lolohea, Lee Mossop, Joey Lussick, Gil Dudson, Pauli Pauli, Tyrone McCarthy, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Greg Burke, Luke Yates, Chris Atkin, Rhys Williams, Elliot Kear, Connor Jones, Oliver Roberts, Andy Ackers, Kallum Watkins, Tom Gilmore, Oliver Ashall-Bolt.

Leeds Rhinos vs Castleford Tigers (7.45pm)

After resting players for their game against Saints on Friday, Richard Agar will revert to his victorious Wembley line-up, with the exception of injured prop Adam Cuthbertson, for Monday’s other game against Castleford.

Leeds Rhinos vs Castleford Tigers

October 26, 2020, 7:45pm

Live on

Double-chasing Leeds are currently just outside the top four and jostling with Catalans Dragons for a semi-final spot.

The situation is clouded by the coronavirus pandemic which has wiped out the Dragons’ scheduled back-to-back home games against Hull FC and Warrington, but Rhinos head coach Agar is expecting to face sudden-death rugby before the start of the play-offs.

“We’ve talked about how we might do it and we’re saying that our play-off series could be two or three games long and we could be in sudden death the last two league games so to speak,” Agar said.

“We’re trying to navigate our way through the next two or three games and as a club we could be in sudden death then to get ourselves through.”

Leeds skipper Luke Gale will go up against his old club for the first time since his return to Headingley at the start of this season, while Bodene Thompson is set to take the place of the injury Cuthbertson.

Castleford are boosted by the return of full-back Gareth O’Brien, winger James Clare and forwards Liam Watts, Oliver Holmes, Matt Cook and Tyla Hepi, while coach Daryl Powell could hand a debut to England youth international Cain Robb.

If Robb does make his bow, he would follow in the footsteps of Bailey Hodgson and Brad Martin, who were handed their debuts for the Tigers in last Thursday’s 38-24 win over Hull Kingston Rovers.

“It was Bailey’s first game for I don’t know how long,” Powell said. “He had to make his debut at Super League level at full-back, which is one of the most demanding positions in the game, on the back of very little training and preparation.

“I thought he was awesome and Brad Martin was great, as was Lewis Peachey and Jacques O’Neill so some young bucks are doing us proud.”

Leeds Rhinos: Jack Walker, Tom Briscoe, Konrad Hurrell, Ash Handley, Rob Lui, Luke Gale, Ava Seumanufagai, Kruise Leeming, Matt Prior, Alex Mellor, Rhyse Martin, Brad Dwyer, Liam Sutcliffe, Richie Myler, Mikolaj Oledzki, Bodene Thompson, Cameron Smith, Luke Briscoe, James Donaldson, Alex Sutcliffe, Tom Holroyd.

Castleford Tigers: Derrell Olpherts, Michael Shenton, Jake Trueman, Danny Richardson, Liam Watts, Paul McShane, Oliver Holmes, Mike McMeeken, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Alex Foster, Cheyse Blair, Daniel Smith, Junior Moors, James Clare, Matt Cook, Tyla Hepi, Greg Eden, Lewis Peachey, Gareth O’Brien, Dan Fleming, Cain Robb.

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