Jammer a doubt for semi-final clash

James Graham at the end of the match'Leeds Rhinos v St Helens'GRAND FINAL'Engage Super League 2009
James Graham at the end of the match'Leeds Rhinos v St Helens'GRAND FINAL'Engage Super League 2009

INFLUENTIAL joint skipper James Graham is an injury doubt for Saturday’s Challenge Cup semi-final against Wigan.

There are huge question marks over the fitness of several other first choice players, and this week the focus will be centred almost as much on the treatment room as the training pitch.

Prop forward Graham, scrum half Jonny Lomax, irrepressible hooker James Roby and loose-forward Shaun Magennis all picked up various injuries during Sunday’s 46-26 victory at Castleford, while centre Francis Meli and Sia Soliola were ruled out.

Coach Royce Simmons said: “Shaun is definitely out of contention after he suffered a serious groin tear and I can’t help feeling sorry for the bloke.

“He is one of our most professional players and has worked extremely hard to overcome a series of injuries.

“He also trains hard but keeps bouncing from one injury to another and must feel very frustrated by it all.”

NRL-bound Graham featured in the second-half at Castleford, but is the kind of competitor who will play through the pain barrier if necessary.

Simmons said: “Jammer took a bit of a blow around the head and neck, and then tightened up in the back and lost the power to his legs, while Lomax had stitches in a cut, and Roby suffered a problem with his hand which we will be having X-rayed.”

Saints will go into the semi-final as underdogs – having lost two and drawn one of the previous games between the two clubs this season – but form often goes out of the window in sudden death competitions. Simmons, who is planning a far from vigorous build-up to the tie, said: “We have had a lot of problems with injuries this year, and can be proud of the fact we have reached the last four of the Challenge Cup, but the job is still not finished yet.”

He added: “We all know what is at stake. The stadium is going to be full and there will be an electric atmosphere for what I expect to be a great game.

“That is why I am part of the sport – I just love footy and like competing.”

The tie, which kicks off at 4.30pm will be screened live by BBC TV.