Holbrook refusing to risk Barba but rules out long-term absence

Justin Holbrook has admitted that he will not rush star player Ben Barba back to action any quicker than recommended by the club’s medical staff – but has ruled out the possibility of him missing a prolonged period of action.

Barba could return as early as tonight’s televised game with Catalans, after being stretchered off as a precaution last week during the latter stages of their win over Salford.

But Holbrook said if Barba isn’t fully fit, he won’t play – and the same situation applies with captain James Roby – but he will be ready for next week’s televised cup tie at Castleford at the latest.

“If Ben recovers in time for Thursday he will play,” Holbrook said.

“It is great news. We hoped all along it was precautionary but the doctor had a protocol to follow. It is great news but if he isn’t right he won’t play. He definitely will be right the week after.

“It is the same situation with Robes too. He is training fine but if he isn’t right I won’t play him.”

The league leaders welcome the Dragons to the Totally Wicked Stadium tonight – and despite them having contrasting seasons to date, Holbrook is in no doubt about the quality of Steve McNamara’s side.

“That doesn’t concern me,” Holbrook said about their league position. “There aren’t any easy games and I’m not worried about where they sit on the table. We know we have to play well.

“They got a good win over Hull FC at the weekend and I’m sure there’s no doom and gloom there. They will be thinking if we can beat Saints, we can challenge for the Super 8s. They aren’t a mile off that spot.

“We just have to worry about us playing well.”