Head coach Keiron Cunningham would have been disappointed with his players Inconsistent performances in 2016, but the club played well enough to finish 4th at the end of the season.
St Helens were just 80 minutes of reaching another Grand Final, being knocked out of the finals race by Warrington in a close 18-10 defeat at Halliwell Jones Stadium in front of 12,036 passionate fans.
Moving forward into 2017 and coach Cunningham believes he now has the players & match winners to go that next step forward and play in the Championship game. The Match Winner Cunningham is talking about is Matty Smith, 29, who returns to his hometown club ahead of their 2017 Super League campaign, after signing a three-year deal with St Helens. Something Saints fans are excited about.
2017 Transfer Market
Ins: Ryan Morgan (Melbourne Storm – 2019), Luke Douglas (Gold Coast Titans – 2019), Matty Smith (Wigan Warriors – 2019), Adam Walker (Hull Kingston Rovers – 2018), Tommy Lee (Salford Red Devils – 2018).
Outs: Jordan Turner (Canberra Raiders), Matty Dawson (Leigh Centurions), Travis Burns (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), Atelea Vea (Leigh Centurions), Lewis Charnock (Barrow Raiders), Lama Tasi (Salford Red Devils), Andre Savelio (Warrington Wolves), Luke Walsh (Catalans Dragons), Shannon McDonnell (Retirement), Olly Davies (Swinton Lions), Matthew Haggarty (Halifax RLFC), Levy Nzoungou (Melbourne Storm).
BEST BUY: Matty Smith
The 29-year-old returns to his hometown club ahead of their 2017 Super League campaign.
Smith joins St Helens after playing 139 games for Wigan, scoring 22 tries, kicking 304 goals and a club-record 25 drop-goals. Smith won two Grand Finals with Wigan and was named Lance Todd Trophy winner in the Warriors’ 2013 Challenge Cup win.
Coach Keiron Cunningham believes Smith is the final piece to his puzzle for premiership glory in the coming seasons.
St Helen had the ability to do enough to get over the line, but lacked the polish to bring the silverware back to St Helens.
That ‘heart’ and Cunningham’s additions to his squad, should hold him in good stead for the upcoming campaign, but will it be enough.
WEAKNESS: In Consistency
Inconsistent performances lead to the club’s longest win-less streak of 4 losses which resulted in the clubs slide down the table.
Cunningham still searching for his first trophy since taking over as head coach, will be hoping a more consistent 2017.
KEY PLAYER: Jonny Lomax
Lomax, 26, missed the first 11 weeks of the 2016 season after undergoing a second knee reconstruction. Lomax played a major role in Saints’ resurgence in the back half of the year.
Lomax made 18 appearances for St Helens in 2016, scoring 10 tries in his return the game. The confidence and match fitness will serve Lomax well and will leave him heading into the 2017 full of confidence.
Coming back from back-to-back knee recons, with almost 15-months out of the game, he returned in style, scoring two tries against Leeds in dramatic win.
Lomax will a hey player in head coach Keiron Cunningham plans for succes in the 2017 season.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Ryan Morgan
Former Melbourne Storm and Parramatta Eels centre Ryan Morgan joins St Helens on a three-year deal for 2017.
The 26-year-old is a genuine centre with size, pace and power and will be a dangerous weapon for the Saints on the edge in 2017. A great addition to the squad.
YOUNG GUN: Morgan Knowles
SAINTS boss Keiron Cunningham has tipped young forward Morgan Knowles as a possible future captain of the club.
Knowles, 20, exploded into the first team in 2016 and has signed a new three-year deal with the club.
Cunningham said: “I’ve followed him since he was 15, because he has played in my son’s team.
“The kid lives in Barrow so every game he decided to travel down three times a week to come and play at Blackbrook to better his career.
“He has gone through Saints system and knew as soon as I set eyes on him he was a special player.
“The more I see him, the more he convinces me.
“He has still got lots of developing and learning to do, but the sky is the limit for him.
“That is my job – I have got to make sure we educate him right and keep him fit and not overplay him, but it’s hard not to pick him at the minute.
“He will probably end up as an 80 minute number 13 who can kick the ball and organise the team and you are probably looking at a future captain of the club.
STARTING 17 for 2017
2017 CRYSTAL BALL PREDICTION
We expect St Helens and Castleford Tigers will battle all season for that fourth spot. It could go either way, but we predict the Saints to fall short and finish just outside of the top 4 and end up finishing 5th.
Our Prediction: 5th