SAINTS will come face-to-face with a new-look London Broncos when they open their Stobart Super League campaign in the capital on Saturday afternoon.
After playing under the Harlequins banner since 2006, the Broncos have now rebranded, reviving one of their former names and with club owner David Hughes pumping extra cash into the coffers they are setting their sights on at least a top six spot at the end of the regular season.
Coach Rob Powell has recruited wisely and among his overseas players will be winger Michael Robertson and packman Shane Rodney from Australian champions Manly Sea Eagles and fellow NRL ace Antonia Kaufusi from Newcastle Knights.
The Australian influence will be strengthened further by the acquisition of ex-Kangaroo tourist Craig Gower, who has been plucked from French Rugby Union, and yet another former Sea Eagles’ forward in Mark Bryant – snapped up from Welsh club, Crusaders.
But a move for Wakefield’s former Canterbury Bulldogs’ prop Jarrad Hickey has been thwarted at the 11th-hour due to the regulations governing the number of non-Federation players allowed at each club.
A London Broncos’ statement said: “Under Super League rules each club is allowed to register a maximum of five players. Jarrad would have been our sixth.”
The club has also been busy on the domestic front with both second row or centre Matt Cook and Liam Colbon heading south from Hull KR to join a squad brimming with potential.
Saints’ loose forward Mark Flanagan, who spent a couple of years Down Under with Wests Tigers, said: “The Broncos have recruited well and it will be a tough fixture for us but all we can do is concentrate on our own game and take on board everything we have done in training during the build up to the new season.”