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Kristian Woolf lifts lid on injuries as he bemoans “spoil tactics” from Leeds

The St Helens boss has opened up about the length of time Matty Lees and Sione Mata’utia will spend on the sidelines after the pair left the field against Leeds in the Challenge Cup last weekend.

“Matty Lees will be out for a few weeks, we’ve got to give him a few more scans to see what things are going forward,” Woolf said.

“Sione actually came out really well, he actually passed all of his concussion protocols during the game, but he won’t play this weekend.”

With two of St Helens’ in-form forwards injured, the Saints head coach is planning to bring in some fringe players.

“There’s going to be some fresh faces and I’m looking forward to seeing who will be brought in.

“Jake Wingfield, Joe Batchelor and big Dan Norman will be put into the mix – as you saw in the trials they were impressive and all three, given the opportunity, will want to come in and put in some real energy and impact.”

One player that won’t be available is Mark Percival who, Woolf stated, will be protected for the longer term.

“We’re not going to play him until we’re very confident that he can play the weeks after a game, not just getting through one game.

“We’re going to be a bit cautious there and we’re trying to get a marker as to where our players are at.

“We deemed last week that Mark wasn’t just quite ready, but he will be named in the 21-man squad. If we’re confident he’s right to go, we’ll go with him.”

Despite Percival being sat on the sidelines, his replacement – Jack Welsby – has more than impressed Woolf.

“Jack’s a terrific player, I know wherever we put him that he will do a terrific job – whether that’s wing, centre or five-eighth.

“He’s very aware how we can use him at different times; at one stage we will have to make a decision over who our left centre is, but what I know what I do want is for Mark Percival and Jack Welsby to be in the team at the same time.

“Jack has shown he belongs at this level and other accolades are sure to come.”

For Woolf, the biggest issue from his side’s victory over Leeds was the fact that the Rhinos were able to shift Saints away from their gameplan.

“The biggest area I was most unhappy with was allowing three tries in – it wasn’t to our standard and the way in which the tries scored too was a bit poor.

“I know we will be a lot better this week as Leeds had a gameplan to slow it down and try and spoil it at times.

“We need to know how to combat that, because that’s been the gameplan for the past few weeks against us and I’m sure that will be the case in the future too.”

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