Table-toppers St Helens can move a step closer to securing the League Leaders’ Shield on Friday night when Widnes Vikings are the visitors to Langtree Park.
Saints have returned to form in recent weeks with big wins over Bradford and London after being upset against Hull KR, while Widnes showed their quality with a 28-14 win over Warrington last Friday.
Nathan Brown’s men currently lead the way of the top of the table by two points with six rounds of the regular season remaining, while Widnes will be desperate to retain their playoff position.
Saints welcome back Australian playmaker Luke Walsh to their 19-man squad with Lance Hohaia missing out through injury. Gary Wheeler will play at stand-off in place of the injured Kiwi.
Tommy Makinson and Willie Manu return to the fold after both missed last week due to their partners giving birth. Young forward Luke Thompson is rested.
“Against London we were better than the week before and this week I’d like to think we can improve a bit again. London actually competed hard but class told in the end - which it should do,” Brown told the St Helens Reporter.
“Widnes had a great result against Warrington - they can pull out a result at times can’t they? They’ve shown that in the past 18 months. The likes of Kevin Brown and Rhys Hanbury are very creative - they can score points.
“Obviously, they’ve got the cup game coming up and, whether they like it or not, part of their minds are going to be on that. I’m sure they fancy their chances at getting to the cup final and we’d all love to be in their boat.”
Widnes coach Denis Betts makes just the one change to his 19-man squad that defeated local rivals Warrington Wolves last time out. Goal-kicking winger Patrick Ah Van is back with prop Ben Kavanagh dropping out.
St Helens: Makinson, Turner, Jones, Swift, Walsh, Masoe, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Soliola, Wilkin, Manu, Laffranchi, Flanagan, Amor, Wellens, Walmsley, Percival, Wheeler, Dawson
Widnes Vikings: Ah Van, Allen, Brown, Cahill, Carberry, Clarke, Dean, Flynn, Galea, Gerrard, Hanbury, Isa, Johnson, Leuluai, Marsh, Mellor, Owens, Phelps, Tickle