Meli: It’s the top two or bust

Francis Meli
Francis Meli

FRANCIS Meli has insisted anything less than a top two finish will be deemed a failure by Saints’ demanding squad.

The Samoan international – one of the revelations of the previous campaign after forming a devastating centre-wing partnership with Jamie Foster – is desperate to win silverware in the club’s first season at Langtree Park.

And he has revealed the atmosphere in the training camp is better than ever as they prepare for the new season.

“I’m not being disrespectful but for us we have to be looking at the top two,” said the St Helens ace.

“Third or fourth is nothing, we can’t be looking at that as a target.”

Meli spent the first part of his career at Saints as a free-scoring and powerful winger.

Injuries to coach Royce Simmons’ squad during the 2011 campaign forced Meli to switch to centre where he flourished, using his raw power and tactical nous to terrorise defences.

Simmons sees no reason to fix what isn’t broke and will keep 32-year-old Meli as a centre for the new season.

“I’m pretty sure I’ll stay where I was last year, it worked well so there’s no reason to change it,” said Meli, who is heading into his seventh season with St Helens.

“Pre-season has been good. I think the boys have been looking really sharp and I’m pretty happy with my own progress.

“I’m just glad it’s not been snowing like it was at this time the last two years. I don’t mind the rain but I’m not that keen on the wind we’ve just had, it doesn’t really help when you’re practising passing moves.”

Meli has also been impressed with the way the club’s three new signings – Lance Hohaia, Anthony Laffranchi and Mark Flanagan – have settled into their new surroundings.

He added: “Everyone’s settled in really well and we’re working together as a squad well.

“All the really hard, fitness-based training tends to be done before Christmas and we’re on the ball work and drills now.

“We’ve sat down together as a squad and talked about what we expect from ourselves and what goals we want to achieve as a group of players.

“That’s one of the most important things. And we also talked about being honest and respectful of each other.

“That means being professional all the time, from the way you perform on the pitch, to tidying away after ourselves after training.

“We just can’t wait for the season to start.”