Keiron Cunningham handed his players a “get of jail free card” for their first half display to Widnes but will demand Mayfair rugby come Sunday’s derby.
The Saints boss was unhappy with the opening phase of the first friendly of the season, which saw the Langtree Park men crash to a 20-16 defeat.
And he will be expecting a far better all-round performance from the defending Super League champions for this Sunday’s visit from arch-rivals Wigan Warriors.
Cunningham is set to slim down his squad ahead of the clash, confirming yesterday that he will “run with about 21 and give the big men more game time”.
“You don’t compete in any game by completing only two sets in the opening 20 minutes which wouldn’t have been good enough to beat a St Helens U8s team,” said Cunningham.
“But it was our first hit out of the season and in the circumstances I’ll give the lads a get out of jail card for their first half display.”
At the same time he declared himself more than satisfied with the contribution made by some of his younger players who are now firmly knocking on the first team door.
“I thought some of them were sensational when they came on in the second half and felt that Joe Greenwood, who made the starting line-up, was probably the best player on the field.
“He has now jumped over three or four players as far as I am concerned in the queue to earn a spot in the first team.
“Joe was under big pressure at the start of pre-season to do the right things. His will to win is second to none and you get what you deserve in rugby.
“If he continues like that he will be looking to deserve a starting place.”
Cunningham added: “Jack Ashworth played well, too, coming off the back of a knee reconstruction, and Andre Savelio was brilliant. He has enjoyed his best pre-season for a good few years and is in an excellent frame of mind.
“He has also dropped around 13 kilos, too, worked hard in training and is definitely going to be a threat for us this season.
“Andre is a good kid, like all the others who played brilliantly in the second half.
“They are all here for a reason and against Widnes taught some of our more senior players a lesson.”
Tickets for Sunday’s game, which kick-off at 3pm, are still on sale at Langtree Park by calling 01744 455 052 or online at www.saintssuperstore.com
n Saints have already sold more than 14,000 tickets for their World Club Challenge showdown against NRL champions South Sydney Rabbitohs on Sunday, February 22.
It points to a sell-out crowd and fans still wanting tickets are advised to snap them up as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. Prices range from £10 to £29.50.