Flash happy in the halves

Mark Flanagan
Mark Flanagan
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Mark Flanagan admits he was surprised when Nathan Brown asked him to play in the halves - and faces his biggest test in the Super League Grand Final this Saturday.

The 26-year-old says he, Lance Hohaia and Jordan Turner have effectively been asked to form a trio of half-backs in the absence of influential playmaker Luke Walsh.

It has worked well so far too, leading to impressive play-off victories over Castleford and Catalan Dragons.

He said: “When Brownie first spoke to me about playing in the halves he said he wanted me to carry on playing in a similar way - still running the ball - but just wanted to give me more responsibility passing the ball and organising. I’m a bit of a loudmouth anyway so that doesn’t really bother me!

“I’m comfortable playing there - I played at stand-off a bit as a kid. I might not be as sharp as Walshy or Lance but I’d like to think I’ve got a good passing game and a pretty decent rugby brain.

“I’m prepared to do whatever’s best for the team.”

Flanagan, who has been on both sides of the fence in Saints vs Wigan derbies in the past, admitted that, although Saints have won their last two games quite convincingly, Saturday’s game will mark a big step up.

He said: “Going out onto the Old Trafford pitch and taking in the magnitude of the stadium was pretty inspiring - it’s going to be something special on Saturday.

“We’re under no illusions. We’ve got to bring our A game, turn up with the right attitude and stick to our gameplan.

“Your forwards can always give you a good chance in big games if they get on top - that’s going to be a key battle. Just look at the way the Burgess brothers got Souths on the front foot in the NRL Grand Final last week.”

Flanagan, who opened the Pot Kettle Black coffee shop in Manchester city centre with teammate Jon Wilkin last week, added that he was happy to delegate that responsibility to his pal for one more week.

He quipped: “Jon’s injured at the moment so I’ve left him to deal with all the lattes and cappuccinos!”

g Saints chairman Eamonn McManus has urged fans to ‘ get behind their heroes’at Old Trafford on Saturday.

McManus said: Our supporters have been incredible for us all season and have been instrumental in us winning the league in spite of our serious injury toll.

“The team will be going to Old Trafford with absolute conviction and confidence despite being roundly written off as massive underdogs - and in some quarters to a degree that is quite disrespectful.

“We have everything to play for and the players will be doing giving everything for our fans.

“Every Saints fan should get to Old Trafford and get fully behind the team.”