St Helens coach Justin Holbrook has admitted he will “probably rest at least nine or 10” players when his side faces London Broncos this weekend.
The Australian told the St Helens Star and the Saints’ club website that he intends to give a number of his top stars the week off, ahead of the club’s Challenge Cup semi-final against Halifax a week on Saturday.
Among them will be maverick fullback Lachlan Coote, barnstorming prop Alex Walmsley and star winger Tommy Makinson.
The same three, along with a few more, were all rested when the two sides met last month, with the Broncos coming away with a shock 23-22 win.
Despite what happened last time, though, Holbrook says this week is a different test altogether.
“There is a much bigger picture for us,” he said.
“We want to win this week, but we have to be smart about it. We will give a lot of guys, who have been waiting for an opportunity, a go.
“Whenever you rest players you give an incentive to the opposition. They are going to use this to say it is disrespectful but it has just fallen on the right time for us to give blokes, who are carrying bumps and bruises, a rest. I will probably rest at least nine or 10.
“I definitely know that (Lachlan) Cootey, Tommy (Makinson), Jonny (Lomax), Theo (Fages), Dom Peyroux, Kevin Naiqama, Big Al (Walmsley), and possibly (Luke) Tommo (Thompson) won’t play. I don’t think we will play Robes this week, either.
In place of those big names, Holbrook will give debuts to at least three of Saints’ younger prospects. Centre Josh Simm and hooker Josh Eaves, who have both been on dual registration with Leigh this season, will play, as will forward Callum Hazzard, who has been on loan at North Wales Crusaders.
Holbrook is also likely to recall a number of players who have been on the fringe of the starting 17 on a number of occasions.
“There will definitely be some (debuts) which is exciting and there will be plenty of guys rested,” he continued.
“Guys like Josh Simm in particular who has gone and played a few games at Leigh. I think those guys have really excelled at Academy and they need that level (at Leigh) and he has been one of their best players so he will debut in the centres for us and young Josh Eaves will probably get a run on the bench and Callum Hazzard as well.
“There will be a few others who have already played a few games, the likes of Joe Batchelor and James Bentley as well as Danny Richardson who will get another game.
“They deserve it, they have trained really hard and it’s a win-win for us. It is a reward to give the experienced guys a week off and give these young guys who are itching to play, an opportunity.
“Last time down in London we picked a side good enough to win, but fell just short.
“We will be going down there to win but we need to go there and execute better.”