NATHAN Brown believes his new look Saints will need time to reach their full potential – but he is vowing they will ‘give it one hell of a shot’ when they face Warrington Wolves in their season opener tonight, Thursday.
Brown, who is expected to hand Gary Wheeler a start at the problem position of stand off, is satisfied that a beefed up forward pack and the addition of scrum half Luke Walsh gives his squad greater balance.
He expects the side he is moulding to improve with games but wants a performance at The Halliwell Jones Stadium that will set out Saints’ stall for 2014.
Last year’s opener saw Brown’s men go down 40-4 at home to Huddersfield and they struggled to find momentum for the early part of that campaign.
Brown said: “We’d just like to play well – that helps everyone’s confidence.
“Sometimes you play well and don’t win. The reality of our team is we have a new half back and will get better as we go, but we’d like to think we are going to give it one hell of a shot against Warrington in the first game.
“But the main thing for us is to focus hard on our own performance and if we get that right we can build on that.”
With five new recruits arriving for 2014, Brown acknowledges he is more comfortable with the shape of Saints’ side and says that he has already witnessed the benefits in pre-season preparation.
He added: “We feel we’ve got a better balance in the squad this year, with a couple of bigger boys and a genuine half back.
“That means people have been able to prepare for the position they are definitely going to play. It’s definitely a different situation to what we had last year.”
And despite two of his close-season signings, Richard Beaumont and Mose Masoe, being unavailable for the first couple of weeks of the season, Brown admits that selecting his 17 will be difficult.
He added: “There are some hard decisions. We’ve had one or two young players who played last year and some older blokes too who aren’t doing anything wrong and are entitled to play.
“There are definitely going to be some players that are unlucky at either end of the scale. As long as we play well that’s a good headache to have.”
Much speculation has surrounded who Brown will choose to partner Walsh in the halves, but it seems 24-year-old Wheeler will get the nod.
He added: “Six is a contentious one, we’ve got Lance who can play there, Paul Wellens can fill in but Gary Wheeler’s very much a talent. He’s had a strong pre-season and at this stage we’ll give him a good shot there.”
Despite the Wolves winning the head-to-heads against Saints 2-1 last year, Brown’s boy have a tremendous record at The Halliwell Jones Stadium, having lost there only once in Super League.
Brown said: “Over the years the clubs have had some wonderful games. Last year, apart from the Magic game, the other two games were very good. At our place they started a bit better and we fought back and just went down and at their place we got off to a good start and were fortunate enough to win.”