Lolesi insists St Helens are going back to basics to win the derby

Jamahl Lolesi has said that St Helens will keep things as simple as possible as they look to start life without Keiron Cunningham in the best possible manner today.

Lolesi, alongside fellow assistant Sean Long and under-19s coach Derek Traynor, will take the Saints to Wigan for the first derby of 2017, tasked with reviving their fortunes after Cunningham was sacked on Monday.

And he admitted that it will be difficult to implement wholesale changes in a matter of days – meaning the game-plan to face the world champions is likely to be much more simple.

He said: “We’ll play a style that suits the game-plan for Wigan but it’s hard to change things in a week.

“It just doesn’t happen in that period of time; what me, Sean and Derek have tried to do is make sure the group are focussed on Wigan – it’s a nice, simple game-plan so there’s no confusion. It would be tough to tear it up and start from scratch again in a week.

“It might take a bit of time. Matty Smith is new and he’s been interrupted, James is injured and Jonny has had an injury so we’ve had a little bit of disruption which we’ve got to figure out. It’ll be a tough game but we’ll try play a style which will hopefully get us the two points.”

However, Lolesi has insisted he is expecting the Saints to produce their best in the big-game atmosphere come Friday lunchtime despite their recent poor form.

He said: “I’ve been here five years and I haven’t seen us not turn up for a Wigan game. I’d imagine both sides will be up for the game and the key is making sure the players fulfil their roles.

“If I was playing, I’d prefer to have a tougher one so this might come at a good time for us. There’s Cas on Monday after Wigan and they don’t get any harder than that so it’s a good test for us all. We’ll get a good look at who wants to stand up and fight for the badge they’re wearing on Friday.”

Lolesi has also shed light on his own coaching aspirations after it emerged this week he is likely to remain in charge for the rest of the season alongside Long and Traynor.


He said: “Further down the line, maybe.

“I’m still a relatively young coach and I’d like to think I’m still learning and finding my way. I worked with Nathan who was great to me and then Keiron who I was very fond of, so I learned a lot from two great people. It was tough because Keiron has been here so long, it’s been like losing a family member.

“They understand it’s sport though and it’s the nature of the business we’re in – that’s just the way it is, the show must go on.”