We’re underdogs for final victory

Saints coach Nathan Brown
Saints coach Nathan Brown
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Nathan Brown reckons plenty of pundits will be tipping Saints to bow out in the play-off semi-finals tomorrow night – but says he doesn’t care because “we know what makes us a good team”.

Saints have defied the odds to claim the League Leader’s Shield following season-ending injuries to key players Luke Walsh, Jonny Lomax and Jon Wilkin and now find themselves just 80 minutes away from the Grand Final.

In their way are the Catalan Dragons – who thrashed Saints 42-0 in the south of France in June.

Brown said: “That defeat in France is not on our minds because we’re not going to Perpignan, we’re going to Langtree Park. Our home form’s been very good and everybody knows that playing Catalans in Perpignan is one of the toughest places to go.

“There’s probably a lot of people that are going to tip Catalan but we’re confident. Nobody expected us to win the League Leader’s Shield after we lost Luke Walsh and nobody tipped us to beat Cas, but we did.

“We know what makes us a good team with the people we have available and as long as we do what’s good for us we can give ourselves a good shot. The good thing is that the injuries we suffered happened seven or eight weeks ago, which has given us time to prepare.

“The guys should be proud of what they’ve achieved so far given what we’ve gone through.”

Brown, who admitted Catalan were a straightforward clubcall choice, is set to welcome back giant prop Alex Walmsley from suspension for tomorrow night’s game.

But he described Catalan – who have now secured last-gasp victories against both Leeds and Huddersfield, as “the best seventh-placed side I’ve ever seen”.

He said: “The only reason Catalan struggled at the start of the year was because they had all their good players hurt. That’s just the nature of the sport we’re in.

“They’re by far the best seventh-placed team I’ve ever seen. Their league position was a bit false because of the injuries they suffered earlier in the year.

“They looked tired at the end of last week’s game. But, if you play well, you can make the freshest side look tired. Alternatively, if you don’t maintain possession and don’t kick well then you can make the tiredest side look fresh.

“My gut feeling is that both Leeds and Huddersfield thought they had Catalan covered. Both sides had chances to take two points in front of the posts early in those games and it’s very un-Leeds like to pass those opportunities up. In my opinion that’s not finals football.

“Catalan may have surprised some but they’ve got very good players.”