NEW Saints Head Coach Royce Simmons has expressed his delight at being involved at one of the biggest teams in the world.
At his first press conference at sponsors Alexandra Business Park, he also said he was pleased to serve a club with great support and looked forward to seeing as many fans as possible at the Halton Stadium in 2011.
“I am very proud to be involved with St Helens,” he said. “They are one of the most famous clubs in the world with a great amount of tradition. I am proud to be named head coach.
“That said, I think Eamonn pulled a swifty by telling me the pound to the dollar was three to one and I’ve now worked out it isn’t... no, but seriously, I am very proud to be here at a team that has done so well.
“I know everyone in here is thinking you’ve run second for the last four years but from an outsider looking in, you have made five Grand Finals in a row and that says a lot about the traditions of the club.
“I haven’t come here so I can get back in to a top job in the NRL. I have come here to get involved in one of the greatest clubs in the history of the game.
“This season I know the fans will have to travel and I respect that. I’m asking them to travel to the games and to support us.”
The former Wests Tigers assistant coach has been here for the last two weeks and already has taken a few training sessions.
“In the first week I was on the field with the younger boys who have played less than 50 first grade games. They are full of energy, are enthusiastic and want to play first team regularly. This week the remainder of the squad bar the international and injured players have been involved and I’m impressed with how they want to improve their game and train hard.
“I haven’t abused anyone yet and I’ve been here two weeks so it must be going good!”
One of the first decisions Royce will have to make is who will take over from Keiron Cunningham as club captain.
And he admits he wants to make the choice sooner rather than later, but would take advice from the senior members of the squad.
“It doesn’t take brain surgery to realise it’s probably down to a couple of people but there are a few things we need to get done first and we need to wait for the rest of the players to come back.
“One thing I’m happy we didn’t change is the coaching set up here. You can see that the juniors are being brought through so the bottom tier is working well.
“I know Kieron Purtill from over in Australia and he is keen to learn and get better. I have also been impressed with Matt Daniels our strength and conditioner and our physios. I am impressed with how they work.
“We’re also pretty settled with the squad now too. Anyone in the NRL or Super League would tell you they would probably want a little more depth in their squads but that is why we have the Salary Cap.
“Of course, I would like some more in some positions, but every club would like that too. The key is keeping your best squad of 23 or 24 players fit. That is the difference between running first or sixth.
“We need to put plenty of work into our recovery and that sort of stuff to make sure we don’t get injuries and before games too.”
On the injury front, Josh Perry is expected to arrive in the UK after Christmas but is progressing well in his rehab on an ankle injury. Leon Pryce is training following an operation to repair a bulging disk in his neck, but won’t be doing contact work for the next couple of weeks.
Kyle Eastmond, however, needs an operation on the ankle he injured earlier in the season.
“When his ankle was operated on, they checked the mobility in the other one he injured earlier in the year. They noticed a bit of movement so we sat down with Kyle and said we didn’t want it going on him four weeks before the playoffs again.
“At this point we hope to have him back for Round 1, but he won’t have done much by then. There’s no pressure on them though if he misses the first couple of rounds.”
Saints Chairman Eamonn McManus added: “We are more than pleased to have Royce at the Saints. I firmly believe he will make a positive impact on the club and with the playing staff in particular as that is what it is effectively all about.
“Royce understands the British game and St Helens, as well as the importance of our traditions and what we mean to the town. I am enthused he will take on us to better things.
“We have been the bridesmaid for the last few seasons, but with a new training facility and stadium on the horizon as well as new faces in the squad, there are exciting times ahead.
"The squad is well balanced and will compete for honours. He is the right manager and the right person to get the best out of us.”
Royce’s new look Saints will take on Huddersfield in a pre-season friendly on Saturday January 29 at the Halton Stadium in Widnes.
marko says: Welcome Royce ! - I hope all goes well for you.
Get Wilkin back to his best, his performances need a major facelift.
Dave Hill says: Welcome Aboard Royce, Onwards and upwards.
Jas says: Welcome Royce, hopefully you can bring the team back to glory
Sean Jenkins says: Welcome Royce, looking forward to watching saints play that attacking pleasure to watch rugby again, bring home some silverware mate! Have Meli do some catching practice.
Paul Heyes says: Three words Royce.
"JUST BEAT WIGAN"
...four more words,
"IN THE GRAND FINAL"
Thomas Mulholland says: Welcome to SAINTS Royce behind you all the way!!! Sad news on Eastmond we need another scrum half as cover for him.
lilpigtellywatcher says: Even us tellywatchers want to wish you and the squad well,even though we cant always attend through work or finanancial constraints,PLEASE BEAT THE PIE EATERS!!!!!!!! and everyone else !!!!
mike h says: G'day mate. Welcome to St. Helens. Once a Saint, always a Saint.
Best wishes to you and your family.
Bernard Rigby says: When rolls met Royce a great partnership and a classic car was born lets hope that royce and Saints gets the same result a product to be proud off
dave h says: G,DAY ROYCE, HOPE U R SETTLING IN WELL. BRING BACK THE GLORY DAYS MATE, WE HAVE REALLY MISSED THEM. CATCHING PRACTISE 4 MELI MATE!!!
Saintmnm says: Welcome to the greatest club in the land Royce. Im looking forward to seeing how Royce's Saints play next season. Not good news on Eastmond but looking forward to seeing Perry and LMS link up with Graham, what a brilliant frontline. Glad to hear Leon is well on coarse to return. Bring on the new season, COME ON YOU SAINTS!!!
valley saint says: welcome to the best club in the world mate
alan s says: best of luck for the coming season royce i think you are going to need it.There is no way we are going to be serious contenders for trophys with the squad we have at present we will need at least 2 more top quality players added as our injury record over the last two seasons as tended to show we need to have a bit more depth of experience to the squad.Surely with 8 players gone from the squad and only having signed 3 we must be well under the salary cap it is obvious that if we were not good enough last season how are we going to be this coming season,so come on chairman lets get a couple more quality players signed up NOW;; SAINTS FOR EVER '''''
Diane says: Welcome to the best club in the world, Royce! I hope you can keep hold of that sense of humour once the season starts as it's a great asset and I'm enjoying it already! :-) I also hope that you settle well into life in our humble little town - there is Southport not too far away if you get a longing for the beach but unfortunately it's unlikely to come with sunshine very often. All the best to you, your wife and the one child you could persuade to come over here! I hope you all don't get too homesick, that you make many friends and enjoy your stay in England.
dave e says: First impressions excellent.Positive comments and a sense of humour.
Hopefully the injuries will be out of the way for the start of the season.
Do what you can to persuade James Graham and Robes to sign new contracts we need them.
Phil J says: Welcome to The Saints Royce. I hope you have a great time as head coach of our great club and don't be frightened of writing your name into St. Helens folklore!!!!! A few cups in the trophy cabinet & some memorable wins against the Pies/Wire/Leeds should do it!!!!
JOHN says: as it stands the squad is lacking depth, we need at least 3 more class players to compete , perry eastmond and pryce are all working to overcome serious injuries of which being realistic we dont know how they will recover. neck injuries can be very dodgy, eastmonds continually injured which isnt his fault but its a major concern and do we really know how bad perrys injury is, add to this all our home games are not home games next season and then we have a lot of players coming off contract at the end of next season so i think we could be in for a tough season, so far we have named a squad of 24 of which frodsham was out injured nearly all season, armstrong did well in reserve grade but never got a chance so we dont know what he can do, dixon , moore not good enough, meli hopeless defencively, magennis looks good but injury prone, ashurst is ok but not sure how good he is, so i think royce has his work cut out
nick m says: looks positive but faz, fozzie, hargreaves, emmitt out and only perry and LMS in - surely we need another prop? don't like seeing TP there hes best at loose forward/2nd row
Cornsey says: John says Eastmond is continually injured wich isnt his fault ? It IS his fault ! its a major fault with his game ,Longy played in last years Hull derby and never got tackled once and had a major influence in the game ,Darren lockyear could play in a tuxcedo and not get dirty ,Kyle however seems to think running at 2 castleford prop forwards is a good idea ? its not ! time and time again he gets caught in big tackles when he should be directing play elswhere ,the lad needs to get this drummed into him so Roycey ! over to you mate .welcome to moaney saints fans and constant criticism lol
JOHN says: cornsey. bit harsh on eastmond, and i assume you are talking about longy who missed most of last season with injury also
steve w says: hi royce a great big north east welcome to you and your family as a born and bread saints diehard i hope you make a great start as saints, coach just 2 things you will need to remember though, 1never lose to wigan, 2 never ever lose to wigan we can forgive anything apart from that good luck mate and dont let robes and jammer leave.
JOHN says: didnt put this in previous comments coz i dont think it will get in and didnt want my previous comments not to appear, i predict that cunningham and sculthorpe will be in charge at saints one day, maybe sooner than expected
JOHN says: eastmond is bound to make some mistakes, comparing his ability to long and lockyear is unfair as i think they are just a bit more experienced than him also long and lockyear have suffered serious injuries in the past ,
haz liverpool says: wecome royce give captins job to jamer stop him going to aus need cover 4 eastman injury prone
Andrew says: 1.Dont lose to Wigan(any venue!)
2.Dont lose to Leeds at Old Trafford or Wembley!
Cornsey says: John ,im not saying Kyle is a bad player on the contrary i think hes one of the finest prospects in the country ,im just saying he should take a leaf out of Longy/Lockyears books and stay out of trouble instead of taking on the big tackles and getting these needless injuries ,of course he,s going to get injured thats Rugby League ,but the way hes going he,ll be crippled by the time hes 25 .anyway dont want to fall out with anyone ,good luck to Simmo for the comming campaign and fingers crossed for the season ahead .
Offside Monkey says: Welcome Royce, I'm sure you'll do a sterling job.
You've got three young gems in Eastmond, Wheeler and Lomax, the only problem is keeping them fit. Keep them and the majority of the squad on the pitch and we'll have a cracking year.
(Note for Cornsey - you criticise Kyle for being injured and then compare him to Long!? I think you need to check how many operations Sean had under his belt by the time he was kyles age).
ALAN A says: A big welcome to Saints Royce, I hope you and your family have a woderfull time here. I am sure the chairman has stressed to you the great traditions of this magnificent club. For me the last two seasons have been disapointing, not just because we have finished runners up, but mainly the style off rugby we played. I pray we return to open flowing free style exciting rugby that this club is famous for.
I too scratch my head and wonder why after losing so many from the squad only three have come in. After reading his cmments I think Royce has concerns himself, only time will tell, hopefully injuries will be kind to us next season.
JOHN says: cornsey. i understand what you mean but offside monkey makes a very good point, long had a knee reconstruction at the start of his career, when you say kyle should stay out of trouble like long, long broke his cheekbone tackling a salford forward and this season dislocated his elbow making a tackle for hull, if the smaller players never ran the ball you would not see any quick breaks, when eastmond hurt his ankle the second time he had broke through but as he went to ground buderus dropped on his ankle so that was just unlucky, its frustrating when players get injured but when you take a step back and look at the ferocity of the tackles its amazing that there are not more injuries, its a very concerning time for saints with eastmond possibly missing start of season, pryce will take a while to recover, shenton i believe is having an operation and according to teletext perry could miss first month of season, which is a surprise because when perry was interviewed on podcast just after it happened he said he would be recovered pretty quickly, potentially we could start season without those four players and when you consider that our squad isnt strong enough to start with we could be in for a tough start, we have lost 6 players and signed 3 so surely we must be able to and afford to strengthen our squad, if we dont we wont be good enough
cornsey says: Just a note on what John has said about the squad ,totally agree we are not strong enough ,i said same last season and was told by a saints rep that we were at full capacity of the salary cap .just wondering if the powers that be may be holding something back with wich to make Jammer and Graham silly offers to stay ? and if they say no will we then go into the market ?
JOHN says: i dont pretend to be an expert on salary cap but i do know two seasons ago we lost four top players and only signed puletua, so we have to have saved money there, last season we lost long gilmour and im sure there was somebody else but cant remember, our only big signing was soliola plus we signed fozzard, im aware we would have improved eastmonds contract but we must still have saved again. now we have lost 6 players plus two reserves and only signed three, of the ones we have lost cunningham gidley and probably fa'asavalu would have been on very good contracts so that would pay for perry shenton and mccarthy scarsbrook so as it stands we have saved money again, we must be well under salary cap , if not i think the fans deserve an explanation as to why we havnt as yet recruited more players, to recap we have four players recovering from serious injury in what is already an understrengh squad and all our home games are away from home, the fans need a boost and new signings give that boost, if wigan were in the situation we are in at the moment we would all be laughing our heads off at them .please print
philly says: Welcome Royce to the best Super League Club. We hope you are the man to get the players fit and professional again. Great all season for last few years but seem to leave our worst game for the grand final. Fitness and NRL tactics should make all the difference. Become a legend mate like 'Big Mal'.
dave e says: Philly,don't forget Big Mal only did one year.I think upto Mr.Potter arriving we have been blessed with excellent coaches who have all brought us success
that we older people could only have dreamed of.
Of course i want to Saints to win everything every year but that is just not going to happen
Craig says: Good luck Royce next season lets get our cups back where they belong.
benji walker says: all the best royce.. keep the attacking rugby flowing we will be alright let them play how we all know saints play.. we r the entatainers of rugby league ;-)
Joey Anglin says: Great move by Saints, any player that thinks he 's a superstar is in for a shock. Royce is a doer not a talker, football through and through, Saints fans you'll love him.