A Game of Chances
“Never heard of him” is one of the laziest comments you could wish to read on the internet. It’s a waste of 4 words and 4 seconds of time typing it. In fact, it would take less time to type ‘Justin Holbrook’ into Google and start reading the results. Had many heard of Jose Mourinho before he took his Porto team to great heights, or Michael Maguire before he took over the old enemy and set in place their structures which are still visible now?
Despite the fact you might have never heard of Holbrook, it seems he is the man who Saints will pin their hopes on to lead us away from mid table mediocrity. Looking around there didn’t seem to be many options – especially in this country. Are the days gone when a team looks to the lower leagues to prize an Ian Millward from his top of the league Leigh team, or Darryl Powell from an expansive Featherstone side? More likely, the pressure is too high on clubs for immediate success and while Holbrook is a relative unknown in this country – his CV has been deemed stronger than those available on these shores. (And while a lot of Saints fans will covet Castlefords coach, Powell is under a lot less pressure at Wheldon Road than he would be at Langtree Park. He is currently building an exciting team challenging for honours, so you can understand he may have reasons not to move on just yet).
We all hope Justin Holbrook can lead us up the league, but with the tools at his disposal this may take a bit longer than we’d like. However, with all the grumblings about squad strength, recruitment, playing style, player attitude etc. I’d fully expect the Saints faithful to allow him to make his own mark at the club. Getting him started sooner rather than later is a great bonus, he can evaluate the squad and start looking at 2018 recruitment straight away. His ethos and persona can be stamped throughout the club – and who knows what delights the next 6 months could hold as a St. Helens fan.
As well as the news of a new coach, Saints fans will be happier this week with the sight of one name in the 19 man squad – James Roby. The human dynamo returns this week and I could hear a collective sigh of relief sweeping from all corners of the borough when this was announced.
We’ve been a lucky lot at St. Helens. The two best hookers to grace Super League have both pulled on the Saints jersey and, at one spell, both played for the same team. It’s a shame to have to compare Tommy Lee to what we’re used to seeing on the field, but unfortunately for him it’s not unfair to do so. The pedestrian pace of delivery of Lee’s from dummy half isn’t conducive to how we’d like to play, and I’m not convinced that Morgan Knowles is a suitable understudy for him. Knowles always looks better in the back row, and as pointed out by a contributor to Redvee TV, his rushed pass to Smith at the end of the Huddersfield game probably cost us the chance of a lucky win.
After Jonah Cunningham was named in the squad last week, it was something of a disappointment not to see him make the 17. The Leigh match was ideal to blood him in the first team, giving him a good 30 minutes to see how he did, and I feel we missed a trick.