St Helens have no excuses against “pants” Leeds Rhinos says Jon Wilkin

St Helens face Leeds Rhinos on Friday evening in the televised game but they’ll return to the Totally Wicked Stadium without their leader James Roby.

It’s the first game that the Red Vee will play at home since they were crowned World Club Champions and it’s set to be a special occasion as it is also a repeat of the 2022 Grand Final.

Rohan Smith’s Leeds Rhinos visit looking for their first win of the season but they’ll face a strong St Helens side.

Saints have made just one change and that’s the return of Tommy Makinson after the star winger missed their round one fixture.

Makinson had failed a HIA in the World Club Challenge and therefore was declared unavailable to train for 12 days under the new concussion protocols, ruling him out for their trip to the Jungle.

Lewis Baxter drops out of the squad as a result but otherwise Paul Wellens’ men are unchanged.

Skipper James Roby and centre Will Hopoate both remain missing after picking up knocks during their trip down under, whilst Joe Batchelor is still dealing with an injury that prevented him from playing in that game.

All of this makes tough on the Saints as it is but others have suggested that the travel after the World Club Challenge will see the Saints suffer a hang over this weekend after they were able to beat Castleford Tigers last week.

However, former Saint Jon Wilkin has dismissed travel as an excuse as he also described the game as a big contest despite believing Leeds’ form has been “pants” to start the season.

Wilkin said on Sky Sports:

“You’re sat in a plane in the air, they travelled in luxury. We make such a point about travel.

“The performance was incredible. The emotional baggage is the hardest thing to shake off.

“They played well and it wasn’t easy going. They weren’t at their best. The World Club Challenge can have a hangover.

“Now they are playing in a Grand Final rematch, historically it’s a huge game especially for Leeds who have started the season pants again so they will be looking to get going.”

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