Flanagan is relishing a challenge

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NO one needs to tell Saints new boy Mark Flanagan the tough task he faces to nail down a permanent first-team spot.

Breathing down his neck will be Aussie newcomer Anthony Laffranchi, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Jon Wilkin, Paul Clough, Andrew Dixon, Shaun Magennis, Josh Perry and Tony Puletua – all very capable of slotting into any position among the forwards if asked to do so.

Oldham-born Flanagan, who has joined Saints following a short spell with NRL club Wests Tigers, said: “Hopefully, I will be playing at loose-forward or in the second row, but there are some top quality players in these positions and it will be up to each of us to prove our worth, get stuck in, and ensure we make the starting line up.

“It won’t be easy securing a spot, but it is a challenge I am relishing.”

Having played under Saints boss Royce Simmons at Tigers, and also knowing Laffranchi and the club’s other new signing, Lance Hohaia, from his short stint in Australia, 24-year-old Flanagan already feels at home among his new team-mates.

“Everyone has made me more than welcome and helped me settle in quickly, but rugby league players are the same all over the world.

“We soon adjust and fit in to new surroundings.”

Flanagan has kept a close watch on Saints from the moment he put pen to paper on a two-year deal last summer.

He said: “I’ve kept an eye on them since then, watching any games I could, and what really surprised and impressed me was the performance of the young players.”

Flanagan, who is the son of long-serving former Oldham star and Great Britain international, Terry Flanagan, added: “It is now nice to be back home, even though it was a great experience to play in Australia.

“And hopefully I can play a part in helping Saints lift more silverware.”