Powerhouse Sia set for return

Sia Soliola
Sia Soliola

NATHAN Brown’s hopes of finding light at the end of a trouble-torn tunnel and re-igniting Saints topsy-turvy season have been boosted by the return of powerhouse forward Sia Soliola.

An injury crisis, which could have crippled lesser sides, is showing signs of easing and after a 17-day break from competitive action a refreshed and rejuvenated squad will be relishing the challenge they face against champions Leeds Rhinos at Headingley on Monday night.

But at the same time Saints, who have lost four Super League matches and a cup tie in recent weeks, could not have handpicked a more difficult task in bid to end their barren spell, especially as the Loiners were dumped out of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup at Huddersfield on Saturday.

“I’m not sure whether it is a good or bad time to visit Leeds after their defeat by my old club, but Headingley is an exciting place to go,” said head coach Brown. “Leeds play some good football but my players will be keen to do well on the night.”

Jon Wilkin will return to the fold after a two-match suspension and Sia Soliola - arguably the club’s most consistent performer this season - has fully recovered from a dead leg which forced him to miss the last home game against the Widnes Vikings.

Add the likes of experienced campaigners Anthony Laffranchi and Tony Puletua to the list of players available for selection, as well as up and coming stars Alex Walmsley and Luke Thompson, it will give Saints much-needed extra power and punch up front.

But they will still be missing key playmakers Jonny Lomax and James Roby who have both been sidelined for the last eight matches and their absence could be the difference between a win or defeat.

The fixture, which is being screened live by Sky TV, kicks-off at 7.45pm.