Old boy Jon Wilkin hails Saints front row as one of best in world rugby

Jon Wilkin scoring for St Helens against Huddersfield last season
Jon Wilkin scoring for St Helens against Huddersfield last season
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Former skipper Jon Wilkin believes St Helens are not yet fully firing in attack but thinks the club, where he spent 16 years as a player, will produce a big performance at Salford tonight (Thursday)


Wilkin, who will provide analysis for Sky's live match told the TV station website: "I just think they look very powerful and obviously the big headline last year was Ben Barba moving on and maybe the potential impact of that, but I think people forgot that Alex Walmsley was coming back into the team.

"I think Alex, Luke Thompson and James Roby might be one of the best front rows in world rugby right now. I don't think there's many that can match the variety and skills those guys have got.

"I've been really impressed with them and also how St Helens have defended. They came through a tough game at Wakefield and defensively managed to hang on and win the game."

St Helens had to work hard for their 27-22 victory over Leeds last Friday, which was their third successive win, with the team still yet to reproduce their exhilarating attacking best from last season.

Wilkin - now playing for Toronto Wolfpack in the Betfred Championship - said: "I thought defensively they were super impressive and they'll need to be when they face Salford with Jackson Hastings, Joey Lussick, Mark Flanagan and a few of those guys that can cause your defence problems if you're not on your money.

"I've been really impressed with St Helens and a development of what saw them win the League Leaders' Shield last season.

''Obviously I was involved but I think they've developed again. I think they've got a lot more to come with the ball. They're not fully firing at the moment but there are signs that could change."

Looking ahead to tonight's game, Wilkin added: "I think St Helens will be too powerful and strong. I've got a feeling they've got a performance coming with the ball."

The 35-year-old former international believes both teams' hunger for success will take them a long way and expects them to be competing for honours this season.

"The teams that are most talented and hungry usually do well and in 2005 we topped the league by eight points.

''We were the best team by a mile but lost in the two big games and didn't win a trophy. But then in 2006 we won everything so I'd suggest Warrington or St Helens will do the same this year."