HEAD coach Royce Simmons has already privately pencilled-in his starting 13 ahead of Saturday’s Grand Final against Leeds Rhinos at Old Trafford – and it doesn’t include nine-times finalist Leon Pryce.
The best stand-off Pryce can hope for is a place on the substitutes’ bench unless there are any late injury scares.
Simmons said: “I have not officially named my 19-man squad yet, but you don’t need to be a brain surgeon to know I will not be changing my half-backs.
“Lee Gaskell and Jonny Lomax have been superb since first striking up their partnership against Leeds at Headingley in March, and, like the rest of my players, they were in tremendous form again against Wigan at the weekend.”
Pryce – a Grand Final winner with Bradford in 2001, 2003 and 2005 and Saints in 2006 – missed the derby showdown after suffering from sickness and diarrhoea, but had already been told he would have started on the bench.
“Leon accepted the situation but then he contacted us on Saturday morning to say he wasn’t fit to travel, and I brought in Gary Wheeler, who unfortunately didn’t get on to the paddock because of the workload placed on our shoulders.”
Pryce was due to visit the doctor on Monday to assess his latest condition – the results of which will go a long way to dictating his role against Rhinos.
Saints are also hoping to give joint skipper James Graham, who is heading Down Under to join Canterbury Bulldogs, and the Catalans Dragons bound Pryce the perfect farewell.
Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, who will be playing in his first final after joining Saints from Harlequins 12 months ago, said: “It would be great for the boys who are leaving if we could give them a winning send-off, and we will be pushing for that.”
The 25-year-old London-born prop added: “Everyone was talking about a Warrington-Wigan final, but we plodded along quietly and did what we needed to do just like Leeds.
“I’m expecting it to be a storming final, because I know one or two of our boys reckon they owe Leeds one after suffering three successive defeats against them.”
Saints have not changed their normal training routine in the build-up to the final, but on Monday were sidetracked to some extent by having to send players to the Grand Final press conference at Old Trafford, followed by the Man of Steel awards night in the evening.
Ticket, priced from £16 to £60, are on general sale at the town centre outlet in the Brownlow Arcade. The shop will be open all week from 9am to 5pm. They can also be bought by calling 01744 455052. Saints have been allocated the West Stand at Old Trafford.