Wane: I want Saints to be strong
Shaun Wane has wished new St Helens coach Justin Holbrook all the best '“ just not this week.
Holbrook’s first home game as Saints boss will be Thursday’s mouth-watering derby with the Warriors.
And though Wane was weaned on the fierce derby rivalry, he wants their fierce rivals to be a Super League force.
He said: “I like Keiron Cunningham and I thought he did well, and I hope they do well under their new coach.
“I want to win every game we play and especially this week, obviously.
“But I have some good mates at St Helens and having a strong Saints makes the competition better – I don’t want to see them struggle, and I don’t think (Saints CEO) Mike Rush would want us to either. We want derbies when both teams are firing, and this should be a really tough game.”
Former Sydney Roosters assistant Holbrook made an immediate impression at his new club, guiding them to a stunning 45-0 victory against Hull FC on Saturday.
“They have very few injuries and their confidence will be high after the weekend,” said Wane.
“They were far better than Hull on the day, our backs are to the wall and that’s when we’re at our best.”
He confirmed Thomas Leuluai (broken jaw) and Sam Powell (bruised ankle) are set to return from injury.
Leuluai will likely replace young half Josh Woods – who rolled his ankle at the Magic Weekend – while forward Callum Field would appear the obvious choice to vacate a bench spot for hooker Powell.
Wane reported no other injuries from Saturday’s match, and there are no disciplinary worries.
St Helens are three points and one position below sixth-placed Wigan, who can draw level on points with fourth-placed Leeds with victory.
Meanwhile, it has emerged fringe players Connor Farrell, Kyle Shelford and Gabriel Fell won’t be offered new deals when their contracts expire at the end of this season.
Forward Farrell, who has not played for Wigan since 2015, is on loan at Swinton, while Shelford and Fell have been playing for Workington.
Shelford played one game for Wigan last year, while Fell has not figured in the first-team.