Alex Walmsley is desperate for the chance to test himself against veteran prop Adrian Morley when Saints face Salford tomorrow night.
The 22-year-old forward, man of the match in Saints’ victory over Hull FC, has consistently impressed since moving to St Helens from Championship side Batley.
Such has been his rapid rise many observers feel young prop is on the verge of earning international honours.
But Walsmley himself believes a blockbusting showdown with hardman Morley will mark how far he has progressed as a player.
“You can only learn and develop your game facing players of this quality and I am certainly relishing the challenge,” said Walmsley
“Nathan has included me in the starting 13 for first two matches against Warrington and Hull FC and I’m enjoying it.
“But I would be equally happy at any role he gave me. “
Saints and Salford both take 100 per cent records into tomorrow night’s game at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Both have also recruited intelligently during the off-seasoin, with Salford, under the stewardship of mega-rich Marwen Koukash, bringin in a formidable and experienced pack which also includes the likes of Morley, Gareth Hock and Harrison Hansen.
And under the wings of vastly experienced head coach Brian Noble, the Red Devil have set their sights on a to six finish and Saints coach Nathan Brown says his side will need to be at their best to overcome what is likely to be a demanding and tricky hurdle.
“In the past Saints may have appoached this fixure expecting to win comfortably but not any more,” he said.
“The Salford story is brilliant for the game and the more good sides you have can only enhance the strength and depth of the competition.”
Saints will also expect to come face-to-face with two of their former stars, winger Francis Meli and powerhouse forward Tony Puletua, who moved to Salford during the close season.
“Both were great servants to the club, especially Franny who had a major influence on the development of our young backs and left us a lasting legacy.”
Meanwhile, competition for places up front is also likely to hot up in the next couple of weeks following the news that man-mountain prop Mose Masoe is now out of rehab and counting days to when he will pull on the famous red-V shirt for the first time.
Brown said: “He is fit as far as his injury is concerned but it is just a matter of when he is physically ready to return. Hopefully that will be sooner rather than later because with overseas players you can’t send them out on loan.”