Long wait for Saints in bid for final glory
St Helens will make a late decision on the fitness of scrum-half Sean Long for the Super League Grand Final against Leeds at Old Trafford.
The 31-year-old former Great Britain number seven has been out for more than a month with a hamstring injury, and coach Daniel Anderson has reserve scrum-half Matty Smith once more standing by for Saturday.
Saints also have a doubt over prop Maurie Fa’asavalu, who missed their 10-8 victory over Leeds in the qualifying semi-final with a hamstring problem - and Anderson is prepared to wait for both players.
“They haven’t trained with the team,” he said. “We’ll make a decision later in the week, either Wednesday or Friday.
“By Wednesday, we’d like to see significant progress - and Friday will be the defining decision. We want to give them every opportunity to get themselves right.
“If Longy and Maurie are available, they’ll play. If they don’t make it, then we roll with what we’ve got. We’ve prepared for them to play and we’ve prepared for them not to play.”
Twenty-year-old Smith stepped into Long’s shoes for the semi-final at Knowsley Road, which was his 15th senior appearance, and is ready to deputise on the biggest stage of all.
“Longy has been back training this week, so he’s looking to be fit,” said Smith. “If I get the nod, I hope I can do my bit for the team.
“On his day he is probably the best scrum-half in the comp - so you want him fit, don’t you? If he pulls up in training this week, I hope I will have another chance to have a go.”
Leeds coach Tony Smith has no injury worries and insists he is unconcerned over the guessing game.
“We know all about Sean Long - but we also saw how good Matty Smith was against us,” he said. “We’re ready for both.
“We’re pretty familiar with the opposition. This will be the fourth time we’ve played each other this year.”
Saturday’s match looks set to attract a full house of 73,000.