Brown demands instant reaction
St Helens coach Nathan Brown is hoping for a reaction from his team to their public dressing-down when they host Huddersfield Giants in First Utility Super League at Langtree Park on Friday night.
Saints captain Paul Wellens described his side's 41-24 defeat by Warrington Wolves at the Magic Weekend as "embarrassing" and, along with his coach, questioned the attitude of some of the players after they trailed 36-6 before producing a second-half rally.
"My view hasn't changed but we now have to move forward," said Brown, the former Huddersfield head coach
"It is a big game on Friday and Huddersfield are going well. We need to rebound off a not-so-good performance.
"I'm looking forward to seeing how the boys do and if we have learned some lessons from the Wigan and Warrington games.
"We have had a positive week but the proof is in the action."
Wellens helped spark his side's fightback at the Etihad Stadium following his introduction as a second-half substitute and he is likely to get more involvement in his 419th match following another spate of injuries.
Already without five regulars, Saints have lost full-back Jonny Lomax, centre Josh Jones and prop Alex Walmsley from the Warrington game as they prepare to take on one of the competition's form teams who are virtually at full-strength.
Huddersfield have climbed to fifth place on the back of five straight wins and their resounding 40-4 victory at Langtree Park in the opening game of the 2013 season proved to be a watershed moment as they went on to dominate Super League for the rest of the year.
The Giants did the double over Brown's men last season and victory on Friday night would take them to within two points of them at the halfway point of the season.
However, four of their last five wins have come at the expense of teams at the foot of the table and scrum-half Luke Robinson admits the true test of Huddersfield's prospects of retaining the league leaders' shield will come over the next month, when they take on three of the top four teams, with Wigan Warriors and Leeds Rhinos next up after the trip to St Helens.
"These are the games we want to test ourselves in and obviously for our league position too," Robinson said. "We're on a decent run at the moment so it would be nice to continue that and keep climbing up the ladder.
"St Helens started very well this season to be fair but they have taken a little dip recently. I think after their game at the weekend their senior pros and coach sounded pretty dejected so I'm sure they will come out all guns blazing.
"It's going to be a very tough game but we're confident."
Leeds and Hull FC will both have players on debut when they meet at Headingley on Friday night, where the Black and Whites are hoping to win for their first time for seven years.
The match will mark the return to Super League of dual-code international Setaimata Sa, who joined Hull this week after an 18-month stint at London Irish.
Coincidentally, Sa's last appearance in Super League was against Leeds, in Catalan Dragons' 27-20 play-off defeat in Perpignan in September 2012.
"I believe I can bring a lot of experience to the side," Sa said.
"I will try to do all the little things I have learnt in my time that will hopefully rub off onto some of the squad, especially the younger boys, of which there are plenty of great talents here already."
The Rhinos will blood 18-year-old hooker Robbie Ward, which will release skipper Kevin Sinfield from the dummy-half duties and enable him to concentrate on his playmaking role.
The leaders are looking to bounce back after their seven-match winning run was ended by Wigan at the Magic Weekend while Hull, who have lost on all seven trips to Leeds since gaining a 17-6 victory there in September 2007, are hoping to halt a three-match losing run which threatens to drag them into the relegation dogfight.