21 hours ago
St Helens Grand Final Squad
The 30-year-old Long, who will lead the side out against Hull FC in the absence of the injured Paul Sculthorpe, has no doubt that the current Saints team is the best he has played in but says they have yet to prove it.
They were on course for the treble last year before falling at the penultimate hurdle in both major competitions and Long admits the disappointment still hurts, despite their Powergen Challenge Cup triumph in August.
?We let ourselves down and we let the fans down last year,? he said. ?It was our most consistent year until this year but we didn?t win a trophy, which was gutting.
?It would be nice to take some silverware home to say to everyone we?re a quality side.
?People judge you on how many trophies you?ve won. You can?t become the best side unless you win silverware and now we?ve got the chance.
?This is the best team I?ve played in - to leave two internationals out like Vinnie Anderson and Nick Fozzard says something about our strength in depth - but, if you don?t win a trophy, you?re not going to be classed as a great side.?
The talismanic Long, who is in his 10th season with St Helens, made history by winning the Lance Todd Trophy for a third time as man of the match in his side?s cup win over Huddersfield Giants at Twickenham.
It was his second such award at Twickenham but Old Trafford has been an even more productive venue for the one-time Man of Steel.
It was his famous drop goal that secured a 19-18 win over Bradford Bulls four years ago and in 1999 he landed a touchline conversion to give his side an 8-6 win over the Bulls. He was also in the side that beat Wigan Warriors in 2000.
?It?s better than Twickenham,? he admitted. ?It?s good to be back here. It doesn?t seem two minutes but, looking back, it?s four years ago.
?I?ve very fond memories. I don?t think I?ve ever lost here. I played in an Academy Grand Final here for Wigan and we won that.
?We?ve got a good record in Grand Finals but records are there to be broken.
?We know it?s going to be tough. Hull are a quality side and they?re going to give it their best shot. When we?ve played them this year, they?ve been our toughest games.?
Long is focused on the climax to the domestic season but admits he also has one eye on the Tri-Nations Series, which gets under way in Auckland on the morning of the Grand Final.
The Wigan-born half-back will fly to Sydney with the main party on Tuesday to prepare for the Lions? first match against New Zealand in Christchurch on October 28.
Long is expected to win his 12th cap but admits that he has yet to fulfil his potential at international level and has a yearning ambition to win over the fans from his rival clubs.
?Without a doubt,? he said. ?I haven?t performed at international level and I can?t tell you why. I?ve no idea. Hopefully, I can give it my best shot this year. It would be nice to have a great series.
?I always remember Garry Schofield having a blinding series against the Kiwis one year. I didn?t support Hull - I was a Wigan supporter - but to watch Garry Schofield was special.
?It?s good that you get support not just from St Helens people but from all the fans and that would be nice.
?I think we?ve got a good chance this year. He (Brian Noble) has picked a good set of players but it?s up to us to produce the goods.?
Long made his Test debut in 1997 and, although he missed last year?s series through injury, he scored two tries in the mid-summer win over New Zealand.
St Helens 20-man squad: Wellens, Gardner, Lyon, Talau, Meli, Pryce, Long, Fozzard, Cunningham, Cayless, Gilmour, Wilkin, Roby, Bennett, Hooper, P Anderson, V Anderson, Graham, Hardman, Fa'asavalu.