Ahead of their Thursday night match against Catalans, league leaders St Helens have named captain James Roby and winger Adam Swift in their nineteen man squad as well as including Ben Barba a week after he was taken from the field on a stretcher.
That turned out to be precautionary and Justin Holbrook will be glad to be able to call on the services of Super League’s top try scorer (fifteen) as well as Roby but has confirmed they won’t feature unless 100%. “If Ben recovers in time for Thursday he will play,” he said, adding that “we hoped it was precautionary but the doctor had a protocol to follow. If he isn’t right he won’t play – it is the same situation with Robes, too. He is training fine but if he isn’t right I won’t play him.”
Such is the squad available to the Australian, a potential absence of two of the league’s top players wouldn’t overly affect the quality of the Saints line up. If Barba is unavailable, England international Jonny Lomax could very easily drop in to full-back with Theo Fages stepping into the halves and Matty Smith, Roby’s replacement at hooker for the last three matches, would be able to continue in that role.
The returns of Roby and Swift to the preliminary squad come at the expense of the injured Matty Lees, who has been handed a two-match penalty notice, and Matty Costello.
Their Thursday night visitor Catalans climbed off the bottom of the table following their 25-24 victory over Hull FC in Perpignan but will travel without one of their strongest players. Off-season recruit David Mead left the field through injury in that match and isn’t available, nor is Mika Simon with Alrix Da Costa and Iain Thornley coming into the fold.
Despite their victory last time out, even the most diehard of Catalans fans would be hard pressed to find an argument for the Frenchmen leaving St Helens with any points.
Score prediction: St Helens 60-14 Catalans
St Helens squad: Lomax, Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Swift, Fages, Smith, Roby, Amor, Taia, Wilkin, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Knowles, Thompson, Peyroux, Richardson, Grace, Barba
Catalans Dragons squad: Broughton, Thornley, Wiliame, Langi, Casty, Moa, Anderson, Garcia, Bird, Bousquet, Duport, Baitieri, McIlorum, Tierney, Julien, Maria, Da Costa, Gigot, Drinkwater