JON Wilkin and James Roby have been named in England’s Rugby League’s 30-man Elite Training Squad as the national team starts its preparations in World Cup year.The squad will meet up at RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire over the weekend of March 16 and there will be a further four camps throughout this year including high altitude training in Potchefstroom, South Africa at the end of the domestic season.“The players are fully aware of the importance of this year,” said Head Coach Steve McNamara. “Every opportunity we have together will be vital in honing our preparations to make a real impact on the Rugby League World Cup in the autumn.“We have every confidence in the group, along with our Australian based players, to be competitive against the best teams in the world. We are leaving nothing to chance and our training programme will add variety and the attention to detail our elite players deserve.“The main focus naturally will be about the Rugby League World Cup, but we have a responsibility to ensure the future stars of the game are prepared and ready for international tournaments after 2013 and the World Cup in 2017.”England will start their 2013 campaign with the International Origin match against the Exiles on Friday June 14 at The Halliwell Jones Stadium and will take on France in a warm-up game before the Rugby League World Cup gets underway on Saturday October 26, when they take on Australia at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.2013 England Elite Training Squad:Carl Ablett, Tom Briscoe, Rob Burrow, Garreth Carvell, Josh Charnley, Rangi Chase, Ben Cockayne, Eorl Crabtree, Leroy Cudjoe, Gareth Ellis, Liam Farrell, Ryan Hall, Zak Hardaker, Gareth Hock, Chris Hill, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Danny McGuire, Michael McIlorum, Adrian Morley, Lee Mossop, Richie Myler, Sean O’Loughlin, Stefan Ratchford, James Roby, Kevin Sinfield, Danny Tickle, Sam Tomkins, Kallum Watkins, Ben Westwood, Jon Wilkin.
NATHAN Brown remains positive despite the ramifications of Saints 44-22 win over Widnes on Friday.“The win came at a cost and unfortunately we’ve had a few that have come at a cost over the last few months,” he said. “That is the nature of the game we play I suppose. Luke Walsh was just making a tackle and we’ve had some news on Jon Wilkin that isn’t ideal too.“Luke has either a dislocated ankle or a compound fracture of his leg. Until he has surgery we won’t know.”He continued: “We were leading well and then Jordan Turner and Mark Percival made a bad read. I thought they played super but a couple of mistakes cost us those points in the second half. I was happy with the game apart from that two minute period but against the good sides you cannot afford to have those lapses.“I thought after that period we dominated with our offence and defence. We lost Mark Flanagan in the first half and have others out in key positions – Jonny and Lance – so I am proud of the guys. Jordan Turner and Gary Wheeler did super when we moved things around.“I thought Kyle Amor and Alex Walmsley were sensational. For a ten minute spell we were as good as we have been for the first or five weeks of the season. The forwards turned the game with their defence and carried the ball well.“It gives us a lot of confidence to take into next week and we are sure we can have a positive finish to the year. It is the nature of the game, the sun will come up tomorrow, we will train and go again.“We have a good group of forwards, a dummy half back at the top of his game, two young centres and one of those was terrific in the halves today.“Shannon McDonnell can come in, Paul Wellens can move to the halves and play well like he has done there this season and Lance should be back before the season’s out. We have to work hard and be positive.”
A SAINTLY welcome to our sponsors at tonight’s game.MATCH SPONSORS – Bold Skip HireBold Skip Hire are a well-known local skip hire business who are proud to be match sponsors again.They can be found at Moss House Farm, Fleet Lane, St Helens, WA9 2RJ and contacted via 01744 833891.MATCH PROGRAMME SPONSORS – Kieras Occasions Venue Dressing and Balloon DécorA lifelong Saints supporter, this locally run business was set up in 2008 and specialises in all types of wedding décor including centrepieces, dance floor hire and more.They were match ball sponsors at our last game for the first time.Kieras Occasions Venue Dressing and Balloon Décor is on 132 Greenfield Road, St Helens, Merseyside, WA10 6SH. They can be contacted via 07955 600 101. www.kierasoccasions.co.ukCORPORATE SPONSORS – ViridorBy transforming domestic and commercial waste and recyclables into high-quality raw materials or energy, Viridor making a substantial contribution to improving both its customers’ and the UK’s resource efficiency.They operate more than 320 facilities across the UK and use smart technology operated by smart people to deliver their vision – from user-friendly household waste recycling centres for the general public to some of the most advanced materials recycling facilities and energy from waste plants in Europe.To find out more log on to www.viridor.co.ukTHIS WEEK’S FEATURED PLAYER SPONSORS – Gibneys JewellersGibneys Jewellers are the proud sponsors of Luke Walsh, Mark Flanagan and Josh Jones.A local family run business since 1987 and proud to be a true St Helens business they specialise in designing and creating jewellery to bring your ideas to life.Based on Ormskirk Street in the town centre they truly believe that ‘seeing is believing’ and each piece of jewellery is hand crafted by their highly skilled goldsmiths.For more information call into their town centre store and explore their wide range of jewellery.Gibney’s Jewellers 21b Ormskirk Street, St Helens, WA10 1BQ. Tel: 01744 24135. www.facebook.com/gibneys.jewellers
SAINTS are delighted to announce that Matty Smith has inked a three-year contract with the club.The Grand Final winning International half-back arrives with more than 250 top flight games to his credit and a plethora of honours.He has won two Grand Finals and was named Lance Todd winner in the Warriors’ 2013 Challenge Cup win.The 29-year-old has also played four times for England – in the 2014 Four Nations and 2015 Test Match series against New Zealand – and been named in the Dream Team twice.Head Coach Keiron Cunningham said: “I’m delighted to have secured the services of Matty. He a class scrum half who possesses a fantastic kicking and passing game as well as being an accomplished goal kicker.“He has excellent leadership qualities and composure in big games after having experienced several over the course of his career.“Having come through the system here he understands the club’s ethos and culture and has had a lot of success at the Warriors.“This is a perfect opportunity for us to bring his experience and professionalism to the Saints to not only guide the side around the park but help nurture the youngsters we have here.“His partnership with Theo Fages will be an exciting one to watch.”This is Matty’s second spell at the club after he originally made his debut for Saints in 2006 – after signing from Blackbrook.He moved to Widnes on loan in 2008 and then Salford, but was recalled by the Saints to play in the 2010 Grand Final run in.Smith signed for Salford in 2010 but halfway through 2012 moved to Wigan – just a couple of days after playing for England against the Exiles.At Wigan, Matty continued his development as one of the top 7s in the British game.He was named Lance Todd Trophy winner in Wigan’s cup success over Hull FC in 2013 and played in the Super League Grand Final victory over Warrington in the same year.And, he won the Grand Final with the Warriors in 2016.Matty Smith said: “I am thrilled and honoured to be back at my hometown team.“It should be a seamless transition as I have come through the system at Saints and know the key staff and players as well as the club’s culture.“I am committed to bringing silverware back to the club and look forward to helping the younger players develop.”Smith joins Luke Douglas and Ryan Morgan in putting pen to paper for 2017 and beyond at the club.