St Helens are looking to take another stride towards history today. They are chasing a record breaking fourth consecutive title in the hopes that they can break Leeds Rhinos’ record of three having equalled it last year.
As fate would have it, Leeds await Saints in the Grand Final should they beat Salford in today’s semi-final.
With history beckoning, do Saints have what it takes to deliver? Well recent history would suggest they do as would the insight of a former teammate Mark Flanagan.
Flanagan was in the Saints side that won the 2014 Grand Final despite a shed load of injuries and the loss of playmaker Lance Hohaia within the first two minutes of the final itself. It’s a similar situation to the one the Saints are in now and the likes of Tommy Makinson and Mark Percival – who returns today – picked up their first Grand Final that day.
Reflecting on playing alongside them back then, Flanagan could see the signs that they would be successful then: “I think they were all winners, I think what I kind of, I wasn’t a senior player back then but I like to think was an old head on young shoulders, I thought we could build something at Saints with standards and habits and I remember bollocking Mark Percival for not getting in the ice baths after training and I kinda said ‘this is what you’ve got to do to be professional.’
“A lot of the senior players at that time tried to instil what it takes to win in those young lads but I could see back then that if they could keep those young lads together then they’d have great success. They always had the ingredients to create a dynasty.”
A dynasty they have indeed they have created no doubt helped along by those experiences.
Certainly one of Super League’s greatest ever teams, Flanagan believes a Grand Final win this year would cement them as the greatest Super League side.
“I think if they win it this year,” Flanagan said when asked if they were the competition’s greatest side, “I think if you’re compared to your peers, in your own era and you’re as dominant as they could be by doing four on the trot, they’d be the best Super League team. If they just do the three, I’d put them as equal with the Leeds team that did it.”