After achieving a record four-peat last season, St Helens are under new leadership in 2023 with Paul Wellens at the helm and Laurent Frayssinous as a new assistant coach.
Their squad, however, is very much the same. Only three players have left the club, Regan Grace being the most notable. They have added two new players, including former Barrow Raiders winger Tee Ritson.
With this in mind, here is how we predict Saints to line up next season.
Full Back: Jack Welsby
The reigning Young Player of the Year spent most of last season in the halves to replace the injured Lewis Dodd. Despite this though, he will return to his favoured full-back role next year. Who better to coach him than arguably Saints’ best-ever fullback?
Wingers: Tommy Makinson and Jon Bennison
Fresh off a World Cup performance that included seven tries and 68 points, Makinson is in the form of his life. Should the 32-year-old score 15 or more tries next year, he will enter the top ten try scorers in Super League history. On the other side is a player at the opposite end of his career – Jon Bennison. The youngster will be full of confidence after scoring a try at Old Trafford to help the Red Vee win their fourth Super League title in a row. He will face competition from new signing Ritson, but with credit already in the bank and with the number two on his back, Bennison has the edge at this stage.
Centres: Will Hopoate and Mark Percival
Hopoate and Percival both have bags of experience and are always consistent performers. However, both are quite injury-prone with the pair only playing 10 and 12 games last season respectively. However, they have one of the strongest backup options in Konrad Hurrell, who excelled last season after a move from Leeds Rhinos. Wellens will have healthy competition if all three are fit and available for selection.
Halves: Jonny Lomax and Lewis Dodd
Jonny Lomax could be regarded as one of the most underrated players of the last decade and will be hoping to have a trophy-winning season once again in 2023. Hopefully this time, he can do it with his halves partner, Lewis Dodd, who sadly suffered an ACL injury just eight games into the season. The 20-year-old is one of the brightest prospects in the English game, and despite his age, was one of the best performers in an already strong Saints side.
Props: Alex Walmsley and Matty Lees
Walmsley is the standout prop in the league, and after missing out on last year’s Grand Final win due to injury, the Dewsbury-born wrecking-ball will be hoping he can be involved in another successful season. Lees, however, was part of the squad that won at Old Trafford, he even managed to score the first try of the game. Combined, the pair provide arguably the best front row in the league.
Hooker: James Roby
Is there a big enough word that describes James Roby? Even ‘legend’ does not do justice to the man. The hooker is entering his nineteenth season as a Saint and has made over 520 appearances for the club. He is chasing more silverware to add to his haul having backflipped on his decision to retire.
Second Rowers: Sione Mata’utia and Joe Batchelor
Mata’utia, who is the younger brother of Warrington centre, Peter, will be hoping for a better year in 2023 after a year filled with suspensions and injuries. He will be in tough competition with fellow Aussie, Curtis Sironen, for a place in the starting 13 next year. Batchelor, however, is a certain in Wellens’ side after an incredible breakout year that resulted in an England call-up for the World Cup.
Loose Forward: Morgan Knowles
Knowles has cemented himself as an England regular after an immense past few seasons. The 26-year-old is without question the best loose forward in the league and will be hoping to lead his side to a fifth consecutive Super League title. Knowles would have featured more in the World Cup if it wasn’t for Victor Radley, but his lack of game-time in that competition will only motivate him to do even better in 2023.
Interchanges: Joey Lussick, Agnatius Paasi, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Dan Norman