St Helens take on the might of South Sydney in World Club Series
Last season’s Super League Grand Final winners St Helens have a perfect start to the new campaign, with two wins, though club captain Jon Wilkin says this counts for nothing going into the World Club final against NRL counterparts South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Saints are 13/8 with Coral to record a win, and Wilkin says his side must improve: “We have two wins under our belts and have played okay apart from in our first pre-season game.
“We are happy with some elements of our game and we certainly need did well Salford. What I am confident in though is we need to be much better than we have been so far to come close to South Sydney,” Wilkin who is 4/1 to score a try anytime, continued.
“If we give South Sydney as much possession as we have given other sides in the opening two rounds then they will punish us a lot more ruthlessly than we have been. We are aware of that and have some easy improvements to make.
“Our defence has been exceptional from the back end of last year to the start of this. Most attention has gone into that in the off season. Sean Long and Jamahl Lolesi are smart coaches and they have helped us improve dramatically in that area. That doesn’t guarantee a good night on Sunday – we have to work hard and take that into the game,” he continued.
It will definitely be in defence where the game is won and lost. In Greg Inglis, the Australian side have a player who is one of the top three in the world, Rabbitohs have someone who can make something from nothing, and is 8/1 to cross the whitewash first.
Also returning to British shores, are the Burgess brothers. While Sam has moved onto rugby union with Bath, and is likely to be in the crowd, George and Tom are likely to feature, with both 3/1 and 7/1 respectively to score in the anytime market.
For Keiron Cunningham’s side, winger Tommy Makinson will be one to watch, and the winger is 8/1 to score first. Crushing Salford 52-6 last time out, Saints will be full of confidence, though this could be dangerous against the Sydney side, who are widely considered to be the best in the world.
The likes of senior heads such as Paul Wellens and James Roby, 3/1 and 11/4 to cross respectively, will need big games, and it will be their experience which can get them over the line, though the former is accredited with their impressive defensive record this term.
“We’ve started well and haven’t conceded a lot of points. The cornerstone of any side that wants to win trophies is defence. If you are loose defensively you are liable to be beaten in the big games. I don’t think us or Souths could be called loose in defence,” Wilkin acknowledged.
“The experience of winning in 2007 (against Brisbane) is something we can use. Having something to draw on, good or bad, is a good learning experience. To beat Brisbane was one of the proudest moments of my life.
“Now as captain, leading Saints out into a sell-out Langtree Park, against South Sydney – that will be a special night in my career and something I will be reflecting on after the game. But first we’re all focused on producing a spot on performance on Sunday.
“The atmosphere will be special and vibrant. We can’t wait.”