Yates’ view: Instilling confidence in players is the priority

Saints head coach Keiron Cunningham
Saints head coach Keiron Cunningham
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Patience is a virtue and while it is wearing thin among some Saints’ fans following Friday’s 24-14 defeat against Hull FC at the KCOM Stadium - their third on the trot - it can hardly be described as a crisis yet.

It may reach that point if Keiron Cunningham’s boys end the month of March losing to the Catalans Dragons and Warrington Wolves to follow setbacks against Wakefield Trinity and the Humbersiders and also Leigh Centurions in late February.

So-called aficionados have been quick to draw attention to the fact that it is the club’s worse start to a season stretching back before the switch to summer rugby but that is the least of Saints’ worries and in any event is simply a piece of history and no relevance to the current situation.

What matters most is instilling into the players much-needed confidence and that they are far better than the results so far suggest.

Neither have they been helped by one or two decisions which, when teams are struggling, don’t ever seem to go their way.

It’s called a rub of the green - and they haven’t exactly been helped in this direction by Phil Bentham’s involvement in the Wakefield and Hull games.

Bentham was the video referee during Trinity’s 16-12 victory at the Totally Wicked Stadium, awarding the visitors a controversial late penalty try, and was the man in the middle at Hull where he ruled a rare game-changing eight point try for the Airlie Birds when the result hung delicately in the balance.

But at the end of the day St Helens were arguably their own worse enemy, being on the wrong end of an 11-7 penalty count which was crucial in deciding the destiny of two points.

Otherwise there was nothing to chose between two sides who didn’t suggest on this occasion that they might be Grand Final or Wembley contenders.

New boy Zeb Taia will also want to prove his worth after being included in the 13-man starting line-up for the first time but didn’t exactly pull up any trees.

The 32-year-old former Gold Coast Titans forward was guilty of one or two uncharacteristic handling errors but the way he set up the highly-impressive Mark Percival for his second half try shows he has plenty to offer.

At this moment in time Saints will need all the help they can get!