Hull KR v St Helens preview


Friday night will see a mouthwatering clash in the Betfred Super League as reigning champions and unbeaten St Helens travel to take on a Hull Kingston Rovers side.

Tony Smith will be hoping his side can kick on after picking up their first points of 2022 last time out against Castleford Tigers.

The Reds finally clicked last week and will be raring to go against a team they haven’t beaten since 2015, a night when two length-of-the-field tries from Albert Kelly was enough to snatch the two points off the Saints.

Like most teams that come up against the champions this season, Rovers will have to be at their best for 80 minutes to come away with anything on Friday night, but with the timely return of former Saints hero Lachlan Coote, Tony Smith’s men will have a fantastic chance of going toe-to-toe with the leagues stand out team.

To challenge this formidable Saints side, you have to control the middle of the park and Rovers will be hoping the return of three key forwards this week will enhance their chances of busting up the likes of the inform Alex Walmsley and co.

Albert Vete has returned to the 21 man squad after serving a two-game suspension, and Korbin Sims and Dean Hadley are also preparing to return to play. Sims was forced to withdraw from the game against Castleford Tigers due to a neck injury, while Hadley was unable to play due to illness, which has posed a problem for Smith again this week, who has revealed the stomach bug has ripped through the East Hull team.

Scottish international Kane Linnett will also be assessed right up to the last minute as he came off in last week’s victory with a quad issue.

On the subject of players who represent the Bravehearts, the main talking point of this clash is of course the return of Lachlan Coote who will line up against the team he won four major trophies within his three-year stay on Merseyside and has stated the importance of matching his former club’s energy levels come kick-off. The full-back returns after a fortnight on the sidelines and has received praise from both Woolf and Smith leading up to Friday night’s clash. Woolf also praised KR when speaking to The St Helens Star this week.

“They are no longer a team that is going to catch you by surprise if you are not on your toes, and we certainly see them as a top-six team and they proved that last year when they won some big games,” Woolf told the St Helens Star.

Saints will have former Canterbury Bulldogs star Will Hopoate back for the trip to East Yorkshire but will be missing Australian second-row Curtis Sironen, who received a one-match suspension for his swinging arm in the Wakefield encounter.

Sironen has come off the bench in all three games so far, with Kyle Amor, James Bell, or Jake Wingfield appearing the most likely replacements off the bench.

The clash will be an early indicator of how Hull KR will compete against the league’s “top teams” in 2022. If the Rovers side that performed at Huddersfield a few weeks ago turns up, Saints will have a field day, but on their day the strike force in the KR camp can cause damage whoever the opponent and with the backing of the home crowd, will be hoping to lay down a marker and send a warning to the rest of Super League.

Hull KR v St Helens

Friday 4th March

8 pm

Sewell Group Craven Park


Hull KR 21-man squad: Lachlan Coote, Brad Takairangi, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Ryan Hall, Jordan Abdull, Albert Vete, Matt Parcell, George King, Dean Hadley, Kane Linnett, Matty Storton, Jez Litten, Korbin Sims, Elliot Minchella, Jimmy Keinhorst, Will Dagger, Mikey Lewis, Sam Wood, Greg Richards, Tom Garratt, Frankie Halton.

St Helens 21-man squad: Jack Welsby, Tommy Makinson, Will Hopoate, Mark Percival, Jonny Lomax, Lewis Dodd, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Matty Lees, Sione Mata’utia, Joe Batchelor, Morgan Knowles, Joey Lussick, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Agnatius Paasi, Kyle Amor, Jake Wingfield, James Bell, Josh Simm, Ben Davies, Konrad Hurrell.

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