Speakman in line for birthday bow
20th March 2013
St Helens hooker Dom Speakman is set to make his Super League debut on his 19th birthday.
The club’s Under-19s player has been named in coach Nathan Brown’s squad for the visit of bottom club Salford City Reds to Langtree Park on Friday.
He will be a straight replacement for England hooker James Roby, who is out for at least a month with an ankle injury, and will become the fourth young forward to make his Saints debut this season following the baptism of Alex Walmsley, Anthony Walker and Jordan Hand.
“We’ve given opportunities to a number of young forwards,” Brown said. “They have been in the system for a number of years and know what is required. They are coached well and that system keeps the club going.”
St Helens welcome back captain Paul Wellens, who has been out for a month with a calf injury, but he is unlikely to slot back into his old full-back role, even though Brown has left out his replacement, Jonny Lomax.
The former Great Britain full-back has been earmarked for a switch to loose forward and Brown is more likely to use either Tommy Makinson or Nathan Ashe as full-back against the City Reds.
“Wello will return and he’ll be playing somewhere for sure,” Brown said. A lot depends on the fitness of the squad as to where that will be.
“Wellens’ number one thought is the team. Despite what he has achieved in the game, he has put the team first and is happy to play wherever as long as the team is doing well.”
Saints are also boosted by the return from injury of front-row forwards Josh Perry and Tony Puletua.
Salford have utility back Ryan McGoldrick back from a quad injury in place of loan signing Jack Murphy, who is set to return to Wigan Warriors, but forward Vic Mauro misses his first match after picking up a knee injury in last week’s defeat by Warrington Wolves.
Salford are seeking a first away win over St Helens for 33 years.