SAINTS feel ready to tackle a Warrington side they empathise with for their inconsistent first half of the season.
Former Great Britain full back Paul Wellens and Saints boss Nathan Brown understand the difficult process Wolves have been through this year, and are wary of their capabilities for the rest of the year.
After a brief convalescence against the two teams in the drop zone, Saints skipper Wellens believes Sunday’s testing Magic clash against Warrington has come at the right time for them.
Saints thumped Bradford 50-0 on Sunday – a win that will give them confidence heading to a Etihad Stadium that has been something of a graveyard in the past two seasons - losing to Wigan and then Warrington.
But boosted by the return of centre Jordan Turner, Saints will be aiming to reverse last season’s mauling at the hands of Wolves – and feel they need the tonic of a win on the big arena to try and rebuild some of the early season feelgood factor that started with the big win at The Halliwell Jones Stadium on February 13.
Wellens said: “In our preparation we will treat this like any other game but it is a showpiece weekend and all the eyes of the rugby league world are on the Etihad for one weekend. You want to perform well and put down a marker.
“Warrington is a game we really need at this point. They showed last week against Catalan that they are a team that is coming back into form.
“It is going to be a real tough test for us but it has come at the right time.”
Wolves are going through a transitional phase having lost big characters like Lee Briers, Adrian Morley and Brett Hodgson – and then starting the season with a cluster of injuries.
Wellens feels that it was a mistake for anyone to write the Wolves off too soon.
“Warrington have had a fair bit of a change in personnel so it was always going to take a bit of time to find the combinations. They showed the other night that they are doing that,” he said.
“I think you will see the best of Warrington from now, moving towards the end of the season. With the quality they have they are always going to be there or thereabouts.
“I can see similarities with what they are going through and what we had to deal with. When you lose big personalities and a lot of experience it takes time to get used to it, but you are now seeing people like Stefan Ratchford stepping up and putting their hand up for the team.
“ Brown, good pals with Wolves boss Tony Smith from their time as teammates at St George Illawarra Dragons, added his thoughts on Wolves’ 2014 so far.
He said: “It was unfortunate that they lost through injury Ben Westwood, Paul Wood, Ben Harrison and Simon Grix – on top of that they have seen Morley, Carvell and Cooper move on.
“That is seven forwards – a lot of forward power to lose and that makes them play younger players more consistently. If you do that for a long time it is tough. If you put Westwood and Grix back in, alongside a couple of the younger blokes, then Warrington are fine, aren’t they?
“If Westwood plays we will know about it, because he does play and make his presence felt. They are just going through a transition period, coinciding with injury. With all their players on deck they have shown they can play – and they did that to Widnes and Catalan, two teams who are on form.
“Both clubs have a mutual respect for each other and play a good style of footy and so it should be a good contest.”