The Challenge Cup is back this weekend and one of the key games on Friday night see Halifax Panthers of the Championship host St Helens.
Saints haven’t played at the Shay in twenty years and so this visit will be a huge one and Wellens has named a strong side to travel.
The 21-man St Helens squad features almost all of the side’s key players barring Matty Lees and Curtis Sironen who are serving bans whilst skipper James Roby gets a rest.
Key returnees include Morgan Knowles, Ignatius Paasi and Sione Mata’utia.
Saints announced their squad via their website.
“Captain James Roby made history last Saturday by becoming St Helens R.F.C.’s all-time match appearance record holder with his 532nd game in the famous Red V, but he is not named in the 21-man side for this Friday’s fixture against Fax. Wellens squad is hugely boosted though with three key forwards stepping into the 21-man squad.
“Sione Mata’utia is back in the squad declaration for the first time since the Good Friday Derby where he received a bad head knock requiring him to be stretchered off the field, but following clearance from a specialist he could make his return to action against Halifax.
“Agnatius Paasi has also not featured since the Easter game due to a knee injury that required minor surgery, but the Tongan powerhouse prop could be back on the field for Saints on Friday night.
“Morgan Knowles has now finished his five-match suspension and is available for selection too.”
St Helens Squad
1. Jack Welsby, 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Will Hopoate, 5. Jon Bennison, 6. Jonny Lomax, 7. Lewis Dodd, 8. Alex Walmsley, 11. Sione Mata’utia, 12. Joe Batchelor, 13. Morgan Knowles, 14. Joey Lussick, 15. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 17. Agnatius Paasi, 18. Jake Wingfield, 19. James Bell, 20. Dan Norman, 21. Ben Davies, 22. Sam Royle, 25. Tee Ritson, 30. George Delaney, 34. Wesley Bruines.
As for the home side, Simon Grix has named a strong squad of his own featuring Championship top try scorer Lachlan Walmsley.
Grix makes just two changes with both players dropping out on account of being cup-tied.
It will be the first meeting of the teams since Saints’ victory in the 2019 semi-final and Fax will be hoping for another huge run in the cup.
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT | Simon Grix names his 21 man squad for Friday's @TheChallengeCup battle with @Saints1890
Kevin Larroyer and Brandon Pickersgill return with cup-tied Dan Fleming and Will Maher dropping out in the only changes from 60-0 win over Whitehaven on Sunday#FAX150 pic.twitter.com/agcWZeCM3x
— Halifax Panthers 🐾 (@HalifaxPanthers) May 17, 2023