Yates' view: How do the St Helens sides of 2002 and 2019 compare?

Captain Chris Joynt lifts the Super League trophy after the 2002 Grand Final win
Captain Chris Joynt lifts the Super League trophy after the 2002 Grand Final win

The sands of time can often cloud one's judgement when trying to assess the merits of two rugby teams from different eras.


Saints 2002 and 2019 are a case in point - boasting a 100 per cent home record in Super League on both occasions.

But the million dollar question their fans will be asking is: How do they compare in terms of skill, ability and entertainment value with each other?

You only have to cast your eyes over the names of the players in the two squads to see the difficulty of the task.

Saints 2002 regularly fielded a final 17-man squad as follows: Paul Wellens, Darren Albert, Martin Gleeson, Paul Newlove, Tony Stewart, Paul Sculthorpe, Sean Long, Darren Britt, Keiron Cunningham, Barry Ward, Mike Bennett, Tim Jonkers, Chris Joynt, Peter Shiels, Sean Hoppe, John Stankevitch and Mick Higham.

And they were also able to call on the services of other players such as Mark Edmondson, Ade Gardner, Tommy Martyn and Sonny Nickle.

Now judge them along side the kind of players available to current boss Justin Holbrook.

Arguably his first choice 17 when available reads: Lachlan Coote, Tommy Makinson, Kevin Naiqama, Mark Percival, Regan Grace, Theo Fages, Jonny Lomax, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Luke Thompson, Dominic Peyroux, Zeb Taia, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Morgan Knowles, Matty Lees. Kyle Amor, Matty Costello.

They, too, can also call up the likes of Joseph Paulo, Adam Swift, Aaron Smith, James Bentley, Danny Richardson and Jack Ashworth.

A plethora of talent in both squads but having watched them all in action during the past two decades, Ian Milward's squad, which won both the League Leaders' Shield and then the Old Trafford Grand Final, were simply outstanding and then under the guidance of Daniel Anderson went on rewrite the history books, as well as being named BBC Sports Team of the Year in 2006.

Players like Long, Sculthorpe and Cunningham were world class while it would be difficult to find anyone in the current squad, apart from skipper James Roby, who could be spoken of in the same breath

Admittedly, the Saints of 2019 can only get better due to their overall age - and let's hope they can show the progress they have already made by winning this year's Grand Final to add to the League Leaders' Shield.

Then maybe they will be able rank along side the class of 2002.