Royce Simmons backs St Helens to end Grand Final hoodoo

Royce Simmons
Simmons moved to St Helens from Australian NRL side Wests Tigers last winter

Royce Simmons is backing his St Helens team to banish their Leeds hoodoo and end a five-year search for another Super League title on Saturday night.

Since their fifth title in 2006, Saints have become Grand Final bridesmaids, losing their last four trips to Old Trafford - three times against Leeds.

But Simmons said: "What happened last year or the year before has no bearing.

"I see no reason to talk much about last year or the years before," the Saints coach told BBC Radio Merseyside.

"There are a lot of different situations, different players and different coach.

"We lost to Wigan three times earlier this season too and we turned that around."

Of those four successive Grand Final failures at Old Trafford, while last season's was the 22-10 defeat at the hands of local rivals Wigan. the previous three were all against the Rhinos.

And, while the neutrals might have groaned at the prospect of a fourth Leeds-Saints Grand Final in five years, Simmons insists that is reward for two teams who have both bounced back to overcome their fair share of injuries this season.

Leeds had to play the first two months of the campaign without key pair Jamie Peacock and Danny McGuire, then lost Keith Senior for the season in May and have hardly seen Kallum Watkins.

But Saints' catalogue of woe, especially in the first half of the campaign was even worse. And, even now, they will still be without winter signing Josh Perry, Chris Flannery, Shaun Magennis, Ade Gardner and impending rugby union convert Kyle Eastmond at Old Trafford this Saturday night.

"They went through a period were they had a lot of injuries, the same as we did," said the former Wests Tigers assistant coach.

"But their side has been back regular now for quite a few weeks and a lot of their senior players who were out injured have got seven or eight games behind them, so they seem to be finding a bit of form.

"They're a side that has been in this situation before and have got the right results, so they're going to be pretty hard to beat.

"They're a side which seems to be growing in confidence week by week just like we are, to be honest."

Many figures in the game, led by including Warrington coach Tony Smith, have voiced their concerns about the structure of the current play-off system. But Simmons is not complaining, recognising that the team in form is the one that will more often win the title.

"People will complain about which system is the best and which is not," said Simmons.

"But, at the end of every year, the best side generally holds up the trophy.

"Often the form sides at this time of the year, so we'll wait until the weekend to see who it is."

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