Wilkin: Saints criticism is fair

Saints skipper Jon Wilkin has welcomed fans' criticism of the team's performances so far this season
Saints skipper Jon Wilkin has welcomed fans' criticism of the team's performances so far this season

Saints have had a fair share of criticism over their stuttering start to Super League XXI - but skipper Jon Wilkin welcomes it.

Wilkin said: “It would be a sad day to walk out of the tunnel at Langtree Park, lose the match, and the fans show no sign of being upset by the result.

“They are all entitled to make their feelings known and if they didn’t then that’s when you are on your way down.

“I’m just happy we are getting that kind of response.”

The 31-year-old second rower, at the latter end of a trophy-laden career since joining Saints from Hull KR in the early years of the new Millennium, added: “I have been lucky that my time here coincided with the most successful period in the club’s history.

“We have been there or there abouts each season and that kind of pressure and expectation you face is absolutely vital in driving the club forward.

“No way can you blame the fans for being so demanding.”

He added: “I think in sport we polarise opinions about teams, insisting that this Saints’ side is the best or the worst and on other occasions neither, but handling the criticism we receive is a fundamental part of our sport.

“The pressure of this can at times be consuming and dealing with it is a unique thing.’’

Neither does Wilkin subscribe to the theory, shared by some other factions, that the three matches in a week schedule over Easter should be consigned to the dustbin.

“I relish the Easter period - and it also helps to pay my salary,” he said.

The captains added: “Clubs like ours need the games to pay the wages.

“If we had fewer matches at the moment commercially Rugby League would under-achieve that much clubs couldn’t afford to pay us.

“The new TV deal has gone a long way to obviously addressing this but I believe until the game achieves what it should we will be playing as many games as possible.

“The fans also love the Easter fixtures so why should they be stopped?”