Wilkin poised to make a welcome return

Keiron Cunningham has praised the impact of his skipper Jon Wilkin, who is set to return for Saints' clash with Warrington
Keiron Cunningham has praised the impact of his skipper Jon Wilkin, who is set to return for Saints' clash with Warrington
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Saints are set for a boost ahead of their blockbuster clash against Warrington with the return of Jon Wilkin.

After missing last week’s win over Huddersfield, coach Keiron Cunningham has named the influential utility player in his ranks in place of Mark Flanagan as Saints look for their second win in a row.

“Hopefully Wilko will play. He had a bit of leg injry,” said Cunningham.

“Wilko’s been immense for me.

“He runs his blood to water every week for me so to get Jon in the field is important.”

Wilkin has made 17 Super League appearances so far this season and weighed in with the winning try against Warrington at Magic Weekend in May. He also contributed 28 tackles and a try when Saints met Warrington earlier int he season –a 32-24 success for the champions at Langtree Park in March.

And it’s Wilkin’s workrate which Cunningham finds so valuable.

“Jon is an ultimate competitor and the more competitors you have in the side the better you will be as a side,” he said.

“If we can get Jon there he’s definitely going to help us out.”

The 30-year-old has come in line for criticism from fans while covering the halves when Saints have been stuck in the role due to injuries.

But Cunningham’s judgment on the former England star couldn’t be more different.

“We see what Jon does on the field,” he said.

“A lot of people aren’t great Wilkio fans – especially when he plays in the halves – everybody just wants to slate Wilko but I think he does a great job.

“As a player you get a gauge for somebody’s ability – competitiveness when you actually want to play with them and you enjoy playing with them every week.

“When I played I enjoyed playing with Jon because his fight was just phenomonal and that’s every week without a doubt.

“You understand what he brings to the team when he isn’t playing.

“He is adaptable, can play anywhere on the field and we need his versatility.”