Kristian Woolf has spoken of the need to ensure fullback Lachlan Coote is 100 per cent fit before throwing him back into the St Helens side, but the head coach has revealed that he will play against Leeds.
“We want our best 17 on the field, we’ve been really cautious with (Lachlan) Coote the past two weeks,” Woolf said.
“He’s had the ability to play, but we need to make sure he’s running at his best and put him in a position where he’s not just going to play one game, but that he’s going to be able to keep playing for the weeks after that as it’s still early in the year.
“He will play this week, there’s no doubt about that.”
That could mean that exciting youngster Jack Welsby drops out of the side, but Woolf is keen to include both.
“Jack (Welsby) has been outstanding at fullback the past few weeks, he’s a very good footy player with a lot of versatility.
“We will find a spot for him somewhere which I will make public later in the week.”
The Saints boss has revealed that being drawn against the Rhinos was met with eagerness within his playing squad, especially with the fact that only James Roby in the St Helens side has won the Challenge Cup.
“It’s a really exciting game and as soon as it was announced there was excitement in the air with the players.
“We obviously had some success last year and we have the chance to play the Challenge Cup champions from last year too.
“It’s perhaps a fixture that will usually come up later in the competition, but we cant wait to have the opportunity early and can’t wait for the game.
“Saints haven’t won it for a long time and that’s not lost on us, so it’s a big goal for a number of guys – especially the English players.
“It’s a big competition and coming from Australia it’s one I’ve been very familiar with for a number of years – it’s spoken about extremely highly over here.
“It’s a little bit more do or die, if you get it wrong you’re no longer playing in the competition – it adds that little air of pressure for every team which is something else you have to deal with.
Woolf has identified one key area where the game will be won or lost – the forward battle.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing young blokes like Matty Lees and Sione Mata’utia go up against a good, tough and experienced Leeds pack.
“There’s a number of key battles in there and that forward battle will go a long way to deciding the game that’s for sure.”