MIKE Rush has admitted to feeling the strain of expectation from Saints’ loyal fans – but remains convinced that his side can still win silverware this season.
The Saints caretaker coach said it was both “enjoyable and stressful” being in charge of his hometown team, not least because the town is so passionate about rugby league.
But he backed his players not only to secure a coveted top-four spot in the league, but also to go on to contest a seventh consecutive Grand Final.
In the 10 league games played since Royce Simmons’ departure, Saints have won seven, drawn one and lost just two – with both reverses against arch-rivals Wigan.
Rush said: “Aside from the Wigan games, it’s been really good. Defensively, we’ve kept three teams at nil, and I think we’ve racked up 40 points or more on three or four occasions.
“Being acting head coach has been enjoyable and stressful in equal measure.
“This town is so passionate about rugby league that everyone gives you an opinion.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel any stress.
“But the players have just got to target each game with the right intensity to make sure we remain in the top four.
“That has just got to be the top priority.
“And we all believe we can still win Super League.
“Wigan are obviously favourites for the league leaders’ shield, but there’s nothing between third and eighth as things stand.”
Rush also told of the importance of building momentum in the remaining 10 league games – starting on Friday evening against Salford.
He added: “Every game is vital because we don’t want to get dragged into a battle for the top eight, and consistency is the key.
“If we can build some momentum and pick our best players in the key positions, then we will give ourselves the best opportunity in the big games to come.”
Aside from long-term absentee Ade Gardner – who is still six weeks away from a return to the side – Rush reported a clean bill of health following last weekend’s England v Exiles match.