Saints coach Justin Holbrook believes Wolves clash will have no bearing on Wembley showdown

Tommy Makinson takes on the Wolves defence in their clash at the HJ a few weeks ago. Picture: SWPix
Tommy Makinson takes on the Wolves defence in their clash at the HJ a few weeks ago. Picture: SWPix
Share this article

Saints will want to land a decisive and confidence-sapping blow to neighbours Warrington Wolves ahead of their first-ever Challenge Cup Final meeting on August 24 when the two clash in round 25 of the Betfred Super League tonight (Thursday).


Whether the result of the Wembley dress rehearsal at the Halliwell-Jones Stadium will have any bearing on future events remains to be seen but St Helens head coach Justin Holbrook believes this will not be the case.

Holbrook said:'' I think the game will be awkward for both teams but as far as we are concerned it's about selecting a side which is healthy and not risking anyone if they’ve got niggling injuries

''Apart from that, it’s just a question of going there and putting in another good performance. We’ve done it every other week this year so we want that to continue.''

He added: ''I think with the number of players missing from either side, it's probably not going to be a true indication of the forthcoming cup final but once you get there and kick off, the boys will want to play well.

“I’m not too sure how Warrington will approach the fixture They’re in a difficult position now, obviously they’d like to be in clear second spot, but haven’t been at their best recently.''

Holbrook also says it is a smart move by his Warrington counterpart Steve Price to sign his old scrum-half Matty Smith.

Smith was released by Holbrook at the end of last season after being unable to hold down a regular place in the side and joined Catalans Dragons but will go up against his old team-mates after moving on loan to the Wolves.

"I think it's a smart move by them to bring in Matty Smith," Holbrook said.

"Matty is a very experienced half-back and he's been playing for a long time, so it's a really smart move by Warrington."

The 32-year-old Smith, who also struggled to find regular football with the Catalans, has been signed by the Wolves on a short-term deal to help offset the loss of Australian playmaker Blake Austin with an ankle injury.

Smith will not be able to play in the Challenge Cup final against St Helens on August 24 because the competition deadline passed in July but will be available for the club's five remaining league matches and the play-offs.

Price is ready to field something of a makeshift side even though Warrington still need points to ensure a second-placed finish.

He is without second rower Jack Hughes, who ruptured a testicle in the defeat by Catalans Dragons, and lost winger Tom Lineham to suspension, while Dec Patton, Mike Cooper, Daryl Clark, Jason Clark and Joe Philbin are all being rested.

Price brings in academy players Riley Dean and Josh Thewlis and there could be a home debut for Luther Burrell as well as a rare outing for veteran forward Ben Westwood.

The 38-year-old Westwood, who has made just one appearance in the last four months after picking up a calf injury, is retiring at the end of the season but is determined to make an impact before he hangs up his boots.

"I'm fully recovered from my calf and I'm just waiting for that opportunity," he said.

"When I do get that shot, it's up to me to make some headaches for Mr Price."

Saints, who clinched the League Leaders' Shield with five matches to spare, are still without Alex Walmsley, Morgan Knowles and Lachlan Coote and are resting captain James Roby,

LAST 10 MEETINGS

Warrington 10, St Helens 21 (SLR20, 28/6/19)

St Helens 38, Warrington 12 (SLR10, 12/4/19)

St Helens 13, Warrington 18 (SLSF, 4/10/18)

Warrington 14, St Helens 34 (SLS8-R6, 22/9/18)

St Helens 14, Warrington 12 (SLR23, 26/7/18)

Warrington 12, St Helens 30 (SLR5, 9/3/18)

Warrington 40, St Helens 18 (SLR13, 5/5/17)

St Helens 31, Warrington 6 (SLR6, 24/3/17)

Warrington 18, St Helens 10 (SLSF, 29/9/16)

Warrington 18, St Helens 20 (SLS8-R1, 4/8/16)

SUPER LEAGUE SUMMARY

Warrington won 14 (includes wins in 2012, 2016 and 2018 play-offs)

St Helens won 50 (includes wins in 2010 and 2012 play-offs)

2 draws

Warrington highest score: 56-22 (h, 2001 and also widest margin)

St Helens highest score: 72-2 (h, 2002 and also widest margin)