Walmsley: Dark month is behind us

Alex Walmsley
Alex Walmsley

Big hitter Alex Walmsley says the Saints camp has ‘turned upside down’ following their impressive win over Leeds last week.

Saints can book their place in the Super League play-offs with a win over Castleford tomorrow night (Thursday) - and the achievement won’t be lost on the Deswsbury-born prop-forward after the champions’ nightmare start to the Super 8s.

Three straight losses threatened to derail their campaign - but a win this week will effectively put Saints just 80 minutes from October’s Grand Final, and Walmsley wants the side to gain momentum before the semi-finals.

“The camp’s turned upside down,” he said.

“It’s been a dark month for the club. Confidence has been low and you could tell we needed that win.

“There’s no better place than Leeds to go and get a good performance and a good

Hopefully now that’s going to kickstart our Super 8s and hopefully we’ll get a few more wins before we go into the play-offs

Alex Walmsley

win.

“Hopefully now that’s going to kickstart our Super 8s and hopefully we’ll get a few more wins before we go into the play-offs.”

And Walmsley credits a large part of last week’s upturn to captain Jon Wilkin.

“I don’t think you can under estimate Jon Wilkin coming back and obviously he’s our club captain and leads by example,” he said.

“To have Wilko back was a massive boost for us – especially in terms of talking and his presence.”

Wilkin hadn’t featured since July after breaking his thumb, but came back to lift Saints in their triumph over Challenge Cup winners Leeds last week.

The Rhinos knocked Saints out of the Cup at the semi-final stage, extending their wait for a first Wembley appearance since 2008 and making the Langtree Park outfit thirsty for revenge.

And Walmsley also revealed coach Keiron Cunningham laid down a challenge for the players to prove their worth ahead of a five week period in which their title will be on the line.

“We really missed that but Kes laid a challenge down for us,” added Walmsley.

“He said ‘if you’re going to put in performances you need to do it against the good teams’ and they’ve done us three times this year and we were still hurting off the back of the semis.

“We certainly looked to give them one back and in terms of performance we more than did that.”

But before Saints can think about getting on a roll, Walmsley admits Castleford will be hard to beat owing to their need to win to keep their fading play-off hopes alive, and in response to trouble behind the scenes.

“They’re a dangerous side and obviously the stuff going on off the field they’re a wounded dog ready to bite,” warned Walmsley.

“They’re really going to go at us from the start so it’s really important we put a good start in and match their presence.”