Time to shape up

St Helen's Adam Swift is tackled by Hull KR's Travis Burns during the First Utility Super League match at the KC Lightstream Stadium, Hull
St Helen's Adam Swift is tackled by Hull KR's Travis Burns during the First Utility Super League match at the KC Lightstream Stadium, Hull

Saints coach Nathan Brown has warned his players that if they don’t hit form now they could still finish outside the top four.

Saints currently sit top of the Super League pile despite suffering a humiliating 40-10 reverse against bogey team Hull KR at the weekend.

But just four points separate the top six sides.

Brown admitted he is now considering shuffling the pack for the visit of struggling Bradford Bulls this Friday - with props Kyle Amor and Anthony Laffranchi both set to return from long-term injury lay-offs.

He said: “We were really disappointed. You have off days but to get beaten by the score we did when it only happened three weeks ago (against Catalans Dragons) is the most disappointing thing.

“We contributed to our own downfall with the intercept tries and our ball control was shocking. But it was the last bit of the game I was really disappointed with. We didn’t fight hard enough to keep the score respectable.

“The table is far from decided yet. We need to put together a good few weeks of footie to convince me we’ve got genuine chance. At the moment I’m not so sure.

“We’re not fooling ourselves. We may be top at the moment but we’re not the form team - that’s Warrington. If we don’t put together some consistent form we won’t finish in the top four.”

Although playmaker Luke Walsh is set to miss out again this week - with a return pencilled in for the away day at London Broncos on July 19 - Amor and Laffranchi’s returns offer Saints a timely boost.

Brown admitted that the likes of Josh Jones, Matty Dawson and Gary Wheeler will also come into consideration for the Bradford game.

He added: “We’ve got lots of players who are available and looking for a shot and we need to get ourselves going again. Kyle Amor’s back this week and Anthony Laffranchi has a fair chance of returning this week too.

“Then there’s the likes of Dawson, Jones and Wheeler.

“Physically, players can’t be at their peak every week - it’s not possible in our sport. Sometimes they play and they are flat. But that shouldn’t happen in the space of three or four weeks.

“It’s important to be playing well going into the finals too - for confidence as much as anything. We need to start a bit of a run again now.”

* Super League clubs have blocked plans by Salford supremo Dr Marwan Koukash to allow clubs to employ a “marquee” player for the second time.

The Rainford-based racehorse owner wanted chairmen to back the idea which would allow one exception to the salary-cap regulations so that clubs could make a high-profile signing.

This, according to Koukash, would raise the profile of the competition in England and France, but earlier this week his ambitous move once more failed to gain the necessary support.

He tweeted: “Once again my plan for a marquee player has been blocked by the RFL friendly clubs. So frustrating.”