ESL Round 18 Friday Game Preview

St Helens V London Broncos

Great Britain captain Paul Sculthorpe will return for St Helens? engage Super League home game against London Broncos on Friday.

The loose forward missed Saints? last two matches with a recurrence of the hamstring injury which has plagued him for most of the season, but he is determined not to miss any more action.

?He was in a dirty mood sat next to me for the Salford game and there was no way I could tell him he wasn?t going to be playing next week,? said coach Daniel Anderson.

The bad news for St Helens is that hooker Mick Higham is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after more scans on his foot showed the injury to be more serious than first thought.

The Great Britain international has sat out the last three matches and has now been told he will be out for at least six more weeks.

Prop Nick Fozzard returns to face the Broncos after sitting out last week?s win at Salford and winger Darren Albert should be back for next week?s blockbusting Powergen Challenge Cup showdown with Wigan.

Meanwhile, New Zealand scrum-half Thomas Leuluai is looking forward to putting one over on his mentor.

Saints coach Anderson is responsible for giving Leuluai his big break at club and country level.

And former New Zealand Warriors half-back Leuluai, who celebrates his 20th birthday next Wednesday, believes St Helens chose the perfect man to succeed Ian Millward.

?It will be a good chance to catch up with Daniel,? he said. ?I have been with him since I was 16 and he taught me practically everything I know.

?He?s a good dude and great coach and he?ll be good for St Helens.

?I don?t think you could have found a better coach around at the time. He?s experienced, he?s taken a team in the NRL to the final.?

Anderson, who quit as Kiwi Test boss a month ago to pick up the reins at Knowsley Road, could hardly have made a better start to his English career.

Saints became only the second team this year to beat champions Leeds, condemned last year?s beaten Grand Finalists Bradford to the heaviest home defeat in their history and made it three wins out of three at Salford last Friday.

Anderson?s honeymoon period cannot last forever but Leuluai expects St Helens to maintain their impressive run under their new hard taskmaster.

?They?ve been in positions before and sort of fallen away but Daniel is on your back,? he said. ?He?s real committed to his job and he can give you a bit of stick to get your performances up.

?He can also turn an average player into a real good player. Everyone knows St Helens have got players like Long, Sculthorpe and Cunningham but they?ve also got a lot of players on the fringe and, if he improves those players, they?ll be pretty hard to beat.?

Like St Helens, the Broncos have won their last four matches to climb into the play-offs and only Leeds, Bradford and Saints have scored more points.

And, after going through the first half of the season without a single victory away from home, the Londoners have an opportunity to make it three in a row and consolidate their place in the top six.

?We haven?t played the top teams yet, although Wigan was maybe a good one to get,? said Leuluai.

?We were a bit shabby away from home ? no one really performed away from home ? but we?ve now sort of got that. Tomorrow is a big game and everybody is up for it.

?It?s a good chance to set ourselves in the top six. We have been sixth with about three other teams and it?s the first time we?ve been there by ourselves so, if we push away from that group, it will be good for us.

?It?s a big game. These are the games where the good players stand out so everyone is looking to perform.?

St Helens scrum-half Sean Long goes into the game needing just four more points to overtake Paul Loughlin?s mark of 2,004 points and move into second place behind Kel Coslett in the club?s all-time list of scorers.

Broncos skipper Mark McLinden misses his first match for the club after picking up a knee injury in last Sunday?s win at Widnes and also out with a similar injury is Feleti Mateo.

Club captain Francis Stephenson, Zebastian Luisi and Joe Mbu are available to help fill the vacancies.

St Helens v London, Knowsley Road, Friday June 17

St Helens 18-man: Wellens, Hardman, Lyon, Talau, Gardner, Hooper, Long, Fozzard, Cunningham, P. Anderson, Gilmour, Wilkin, Sculthorpe, Bennett, Edmondson, Fa?asavalu, Roby, Mason.

London 18-man: Bradley-Qalilawa, Dorn, Haumono, Highton, Hopkins, Leuluai, Lolohea, Lucky Luisi, Mbu, O?Halloran, Purdham, Smith, Stephenson, Sykes, Tookey, Trindall, Wells, Williams.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick ************ Hull FC V Leigh Centurians

Forgotten man Danny Halliwell will make his first appearance of the season when Leigh take on Hull at the KC Stadium in the engage Super League on Friday.

The 24-year-old former Halifax centre has been out for five months with a leg injury but made a successful comeback in the club?s Under-21s last week and helps alleviate the Centurions? injury problems. Haliwell?s last appearance for Leigh was in their National League Grand Final triumph over Whitehaven last October and his last Super League appearance was for Halifax in May 2003.

Full-back Jon Wilshere has joined the club?s injury list and they are poised to give a debut to Matthew Bottom, a prop or second rower from their Under-21 team.

Hull, who also meet Leigh in the Powergen Challenge Cup quarter-finals next weekend, rest prop Paul King, who has a wrist injury, but Chris Chester is back and front rower Garreth Carvell will make his first start of the season.

?Paul has had a wrist problem for a while and, ahead of next week?s Cup-tie, this is an opportune time to give him a rest,? said coach John Kear.

?I can do that in the comfort that people like Liam Higgins can come in as an able replacement.?

Although the two clubs meet again with arguably more at stake eight days later, Kear insists he will not be taking tomorrow?s match lightly, particularly after Leigh held his side to a draw at the Coliseum earlier this year.

?We won?t be treating this game any different to next week?s cup-tie,? said Kear. ?We will prepare at equal intensity for both games. ?What we have to remember is Leigh have five Super League points and one of them came against us. Any thoughts of complacency went out of the window with that result and, if we are complacent against them again, then we?re not a very smart group of people.

?With the cup-tie just around the corner the players know that, if they don?t perform, they will miss the cup game.

?We have a lot of young kids like Danny Washbrook standing up now and we won?t hesitate in throwing them in if others don?t perform.?

Hull v Leigh, KC Stadium, Friday June 17

Hull 18-man: Briscoe, Blacklock, Yeaman, R. Horne, Dowes, McMenemy, Kearney, Cooke, Thackray, Saxton, Chester, Higgins, Carvell, Brough, McNicholas, G. Horne, Barnett, Washbrook.

Leigh 18-man: Feaunati, Halliwell, Jackson, Maden, J. Duffy, Turley, Fleary, Mears, Rowley, Stapleton, Sturm, McCurrie, Leafa, Marshall, Govin, Stevens, Bottom, Cooper.

Referee: A Klein

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