Alex Walmsley says table-toppers Saints are unfazed by the cup challenge posed by Huddersfield Giants.
The two sides meet in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup fourth round tie at Huddersfield’s John Smith’s Stadium on Sunday (ko 2.15pm).
And in-form Walmsley believes that while the Giants will pose a difficult challenge on their own ground, the Super League leaders can head into their first cup match of the season ready for the test.
“It couldn’t have been a much tougher draw,” said Walmsley, who is facing a fitness battle after missing Friday’s stunning victory over Leeds Rhinos at Langtree Park.
“Huddersfield were consistently the best team last year. In terms of the play-offs, they probably didn’t do themselves justice but it’s going to be tough
“As a team, we are relishing the challenge. It is going to be a great game, I am sure.”
He added: “You are not going to win the Challenge Cup Final without beating some very good teams along the way.
“It’s a very tough first hurdle and it’s something that we are lookin forward to testing ourselves with.
“We have played some very good teams this year already and every game has been tough on its own. Every team we have played has posed a massive test for us and fortunately we have managed to overcome those tests.”
Walmsley, who signed a contract extension in the close season, believes that while the younger players in the St Helens squad are beginning to make their mark in the first team, the presence of the more experienced players is just as important.
“Last year a lot of young lads were blooded into the team because of injuries and as a team we are better for that,” said Walmsley.
“But it is pivotal for our success having the likes of Paul Wellens, Jon Wilkin and James Roby around the squad every week. They have been in the Saints’ team for a great number years and have success behind them.
“They have the experience and the pedigree to win and succeed, and to have them in the squad is massive for us. They lead by example and are squad members who everybody looks up to.”
However, Giants coach Paul Anderson believes that despite a stuttering start to the new season, in which the Giants have only won two of their opening seven league fixtures, the Challenge Cup represents a new goal to his under-performing players.
“Confidence-wise, it’s proving tough at the moment,” conceded Anderson, who in a short spell as a player at Saints experienced both Challenge Cup and Grand Final glory in the no. 8 shirt.
“But this weekend we have a whole new and different competition to look forward to - and that’s the way we will approach it.”