Paul Wellens during his playing days at St Helens. Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Paul Wellens has his mind firmly focused on helping Saints get back on the horse when they entertain Hull FC on Friday night - and erasing the memory of Saturday’s heartbreaking Betfred Challenge Cup semi-final defeat against Wigan Warriors.
Like the players, the St Helens assistant coach described himself as ‘disappointed’ by the weekend result but insisted he had total faith in the squad to bounce back and to set their sights on winning both the League Leaders’ Shield and the title for a record-breaking fourth successive time.
But Wello is fully aware that the Humbersiders, who have won their last three games, will be a tough nut to crack and want to improve on their current fourth place in the league.
“Hull are a big and physical team and I like the way they are developing under head coach Brett Hodgson and we will show them the respect they deserve,” he said.
Wellens also revealed that Saints suffered no further injuries following the cup semi-final, apart from a few bumps and said that James Bell will be free to play again after a two-match ban. So, too, will Jake Winfield following injury.
He said: “James will come back into contention. He was playing really well until suffering a suspension and we were really pleased with his efforts, particularly against Wigan on Good Friday.
“He brings a lot of energy to the group and gets around the field and makes his tackles. He has attributes our team certainly values and he comes back and is in contention to play.
“Jake is another one who has not played recently but is also in contention.”
Welsh winger Regan Grace, whose only appearance this season was at Whitehaven in the Challenge Cup, will again be marked absent but could by back in action in a week or two
“Regan is close and finishing a few bits with the physios,” Wellens said.
“We will envisage that he will return to the full squad next week to train with a view to playing at Warrington.
“If not there, then we would hope he makes it the following week.”
Will Hopoate remains on the sidelines and is expected to be absent for several weeks.
Wellens said: “He is close to returning to training with the squad but he has boxes which need ticking with the backroom staff.
“If we can get him back training with the squad in the next week he could put himself in with a chance of playing at Warrington, but more likely it’ll be for the following game .”
Saints squad to face Hull
Squad: 1. Jack Welsby, 2. Tommy Makinson, 4. Mark Percival, 6. Jonny Lomax, 8. Alex Walmsley, 9. James Roby, 10. Matty Lees, 11. Sione Mata’utia, 12. Joe Batchelor, 13, Morgan Knowles, 14. Joey Lussick, 15. LMS, 16. Curtis Sironen, 17. Agnatius Paasi, 19. Jake Wingfield, 20. James Bell, 21. Josh Simm, 22. Ben Davies, 23. Konrad Hurrell, 24. Dan Norman, 30. Jumah Sambou.