Royce raring to go

Saints new coach Royce Simmons
Saints new coach Royce Simmons

ROYCE Simmons is keeping his cards close to his chest as he wrestles with the job of selecting two teams for Saints’ first pre-season friendlies of 2011 on Sunday.

The new Australian coach is expected to name a strong-looking side to face Co-operative Championship side Widnes Vikings at the Stobart Stadium but there is likely to one or two players with Super League experienced pencilled into the squad which travels to Championship One outfit York Knights – both games kicking-off at 3pm.

It will be Simmons’ first chance to see most of his potential first team squad in competitive action since replacing fellow Antipodean Mick Potter in the hot seat and it will be interesting to see how he shuffles his pack.

No doubt a clearer picture will emerge once these two fixtures are completed and he reveals his squad for the following Saturday’s clash with Engage Super League rivals Huddersfield Giants at the Stobart Stadium.

It certainly won’t include scrum half Kyle Eastmond who is recovering from ankle surgery and there must still be one or two question marks over the full fitness of fellow half back, Leon Pryce.

Pryce missed the last seven league and cup fixtures of last season due to a shoulder problem, which later required surgery, and has missed one or two training sessions.

In addition, new Aussie signing Josh Perry is also expected to be on the sidelines for the first few week of the season which includes the mouth-watering opening day encounter against Wigan Warriors at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on Saturday, February 12.

The powerhouse prop broke his foot playing for Manly in September and feels it will be March before he will be fit to stake a first team place.

At the same time Saints’ fans will hopefully have their first glimpse of centre Michael Shenton and prop Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook wearing the club colours which, incidentally, will be the recently launched new away strip.

The duo will add a further dimension to a side which, on paper, looks versatile in the backs and more than capable of mixing it up front.

It will also be interesting to see who leads out the side at Widnes but many think the players need look no further than full back Paul Wellens when suggesting the best man for the job following the retirement of Keiron Cunningham.

Prop James Graham may have skippered the international side in the Four Nations championship

late last year – and no one can question is ability to lead by example and inspire a side – but

Wello also oozes these same qualities and crucially possesses bags of tactical awareness.

Prices for the friendly against Widnes will be £10 for adults and £5 for youngsters but fans can pay on the gate. Tickets are also on sale for the friendly against Huddersfield – and there is an opportunity for children to be admitted free.

Supporters can gain entry for £15 to the North Stand – a saving of £5 on regular match prices - with children admitted free on a £30 family tickets (two adults and two youngsters).

Concessions are £10 and juniors £5, while South Stand tickets will cost £21 for adults, £16 for concessions, £12 junior with a family ticket for £42.

To buy, either pop into the town centre superstore, call 01744 455 052, or log on to the Saints’ Superstore.

BUS season tickets are now on sale for fans travelling to Widnes during Engage Super League XV1.

Priced at just £40 and FREE for under 16 season ticket holders, they offer fantastic value for money.

Saints have teamed up with Arriva to provide a direct prepaid frequent service from St Helens town centre, picking up and terminating at Hall Street. It will begin three hours before kick-off and end 45 minutes before the game.

Following the final hooter, the service will operate from the Stobart Stadium to St Helens town centre with the last bus departing an hour after the final whistle and giving fans plenty of time to enjoy their post-match celebrations.

The bus season ticket will also permit travel on any Arriva bus service from a journey start point within the borough on any scheduled service to Hall Street and return.

The bus season tickets can be purchased from the Saints’ Superstore in the town centre, or by calling 01744 455 052.

However, those eligible for free junior bus tickets will need to visit the superstore in person. Saints can then work with Arriva to ensure that as many bus runs as possible can take place. The club can also confirm that Merseytravel’s no.17 service will operate on its normal timetable before and after kick-off, meaning those with access to free bus travel can use the service.

No cash will be taken on the Saints’ Arriva bus service with routes and services will be subject to demand.

Normal Arriva bus regulations also apply.

SPECIAL transport will be lad on to ferry disable fans fans to Widnes during the forthcoming season.

Beginning on Friday, February 25 for the home game against Warrington Wolves, a bus will pick p in Birchley Street at 6.30pm and convey passengers to the Stobart Stadium.

It will be parked inside the ground during the match and return fans to to Birchley Street at the conclusion of the game.

The cost is £4, which is payable in advance, by purchasing tickets from the club’s town centre outlet.

No cash will be taken on the buses and those boarding will need a ticket.

At the same time Saints will need to know if a person requires to be seated in a fixed wheelchair position or if he or she can use a seat and fold the wheelchair on board to ascertain how an vehicles are required.

Any queries or further information is available by contacting Bill Harris at Saints, telephone 01744 455073.