This afternoon St Helens are looking to maintain their lead at the top of the Super League table.
They are boosted by the return of three stars with Agnatius Paasi starting on the bench, Will Hopoate starting at fullback pushing Jon Bennison onto the wing alongside fellow returnee Sione Mata’utia at centre.
This was a bit of a surprise with Curtis Sironen suspended opening a gap in Mata’utia’s preferred position of second-row.
However, he’s needed at centre with Ben Davies required in the halves due to Jack Welsby’s surprise absence.
Welsby has been wearing the number one shirt but the loss of Lewis Dodd long term this year has seen Welsby play a lot of rugby in the halves alongside Jonny Lomax but he’s not available today with Davies instead called into the halves.
It was a bit of a mystery as to why Welsby wasn’t picked but coach Kristian Woolf has shed some light on his absence on Twitter prior to kick-off against Hull FC.
“Unfortunately Jack coped a number of bumps last week,” Woolf said, “He was pretty battered and bruised and had a few niggles and he’s been carrying niggles for the last couple of weeks.
“It was the smart decision to not play him today if we’d have put him out there there would be a significant risk of a significant time out. We don’t want to take that kind or risk with a player like him.
“I’m sure we’ll be fine without him.”
🗣 The boss explains why @jackwelsby_ is missing today…
— St.Helens R.F.C. (@Saints1890) August 14, 2022