Salford coach Ian Watson confident Warrior Jake Shorrocks can step-up against Saints
Salford coach Ian Watson is confident Wigan youngster Jake Shorrocks can step into the shoes of Robert Lui against Betfred Super League leaders St Helens tomorrow.
The 22-year-old Shorrocks has made one appearance since joining the Red Devils on a month's loan, but Wigan have agreed to extend the deal and say they will have no objection to him playing against them at the DW Stadium next week.
Shorrocks, who played a key role in the Warriors' march to the 2016 Grand Final, made only one substitute appearance in 2017 due to knee trouble but will have the chance to kick-start his career with Salford, who lost Lui to a knee injury in last week's win over Wakefield.
"When your main spine players go down, it's a big loss but we've got young Jake who Wigan were good enough to let us have on loan and extend that loan period as well," said Watson.
"Jake gets an opportunity and I'm really confident with the way he's trained this week that he will put in a really good performance tomorrow.
"He played against Warrington and then we went with our original spine and we got the two wins.
"So it will be good for him to come into the team on the back of a couple of wins and show us what he can do playing as a natural half-back because the last time he played, we had to play Rob Lui at full-back so he didn't have a natural full-back playing outside him.
"This week will be a little bit different for him and hopefully we'll see the best of Jake."
Saints will be aiming to complete the double following their 34-2 victory in a round four fixture at the Totally Wicked Stadium, but they have lost on both their two previous visits to the AJ Bell Stadium and the Red Devils are on a roll after posting back-to-back wins for the first time since last May.
"On the back of a couple of wins, we're more than looking forward to the challenge of Saints," said Watson.
"We felt we competed well at their place at the start and just let ourselves down in the middle period so we're hoping to rectify that."
While freescoring backs Ben Barba, Jonny Lomax and Mark Percival have been grabbing the headlines for the league pacesetters, Watson identifies prop forward Luke Thompson as the main danger.
"They've been outstanding and the one person who has impressed me massively is Thompson," Watson added.
"I think he's one of the form front rowers in the competition."
St Helens can go four points clear but coach Justin Holbrook says he is acutely aware of the threat of their hosts.
"They had a slow start to the season but in the last couple of weeks they've been fantastic," Holbrook said.
"They've got some big forwards and some quick outside backs. They blew Wakefield off park last week and they had a good win the week before so we're expecting a tough game."