Ex-GB coach Brian Noble praises Saints youth policy

Tom Armstrong
Tom Armstrong touches down for his third try at The Stoop on Saturday

St Helens' flourishing youth policy has come in for further praise from former Great Britain coach Brian Noble.

Saints fielded 17 English players, 15 of them Academy products, in Saturday's 34-16 win over Harlequins.

"I think it is brilliant to see so many English players on show," Noble told the BBC's Super League Show.

"It's what the British game needs and bodes well for both St Helens and England. Mike Rush and the academy system there have done a great job."

At a time when Saints are braced to offload their most exciting discovery in recent years, Bath-bound Kyle Eastmond (currently sidelined with a groin problem), coach Royce Simmons also lavished praise on his young guns.

Having rested four of their big guns, Jamie Foster, Leon Pryce, James Roby and Sia Soliola, ahead of Sunday's play-off derby trip to Wigan, the Saints youngsters produced a 30-point second half to wipe out a half-time deficit, with winger Tom Armstrong the star of the show thanks to a hat-trick of tries.

But, with Carl Forster making his debut, and players like Andrew Dixon and Matty Ashurst getting some useful playing time, Simmons was eager to focus on his second stringers.

"I think the best part of the performance at Quins on Saturday is that we went down with 18 guys to play, and 15 of them have come through our academy," said the Saints coach.

"That is absolutely tremendous. It is the first time it has ever happened for us.

"To come here and give players some much-needed game time ahead of the play-offs is a big thing for us and will really stand us in good stead."