STEVE Price has paid tribute to his co-captain Jack Hughes, who played on with a ruptured testicle in the 30-10 loss to Catalans Dragons on Saturday.

Hughes, 27, received treatment for the injury on the field halfway through the first half

“It was quite severe what he got from the knee off the kick-off,” said Price.

“It’s courageous to play 50 minutes straight with a ruptured testicle. I have a huge amount of respect for him.

“He got operated on that night. We’ll know more over the next 48 hours.”

Hughes had the operation in Perpignan hospital and flew home separate to the team on Monday.

Ben Murdoch-Masila is likely to figure in Hughes’ regular right second-row berth for part of tonight’s clash with St Helens at The Halliwell Jones Stadium.

The Tongan powerhouse did not feature in Catalans.

“With his operation previously, and the big game in the semi-final the previous week, I thought it was best to get him right for this week instead of Catalans - especially with the short tun around.

“He gets a longer break next week (before the Wigan game) which will really benefit him.”

Of the other players Price has left out of the squad to face Saints - Dec Patton, Mike Cooper, Daryl Clark, Jason Cark and Joe Philbin - he has not confirmed any are injured but they have been through a lot with the semi-final win against Hull FC and the war with Catalans in intense heat that ended with fighting on and off the pitch.

“I felt it was a good opportunity because we have some really good kids banging on the door saying ‘coach, give me a crack.’

“So it’s a good chance to showcase and put a marker down.”

One of them is Luis Johnson, the former England Academy international signed from Castleford Tigers ahead of last season who has made just one sub appearance so far - at Wigan last September.

“He’s been banging on the door to get a crack in the first team. I put him out on loan at Hull KR and he did a really good job,” said Price.

“It felt like he came back with chest puffed out and a bit of a spring in his step. We’re all looking forward to seeing the growth and development Louis has had over the last couple of months.”

Tom Lineham misses Saints with a one-match suspension for a strike with the shoulder at Catalans.