In: Joel Thompson (Manly), Agnatius Paasi (NZ Warriors), Sione Mata’utia (Newcastle), Dan Norman (London).
Out: Joseph Paulo, Dom Peyroux (both Toulouse), Jack Ashworth (Huddersfield), Callum Hazzard (Crusaders), Joe Sharratt (Barrow), Josh Eaves, Matty Foster (Leigh), Matty Costelo (Salford), James Graham (retired).
Saints out to make it a treble
St. Helens are the ones to beat in 2021 as they set out to lift the Super League trophy for the third straight season.
They have been building on the most solid of platforms after their breath-taking Grand Final win over Wigan in November.
Joel Thompson arrives from Manly, Sione Mata’utia – the youngest ever Australia international and ex-Newcastle Knights star – has also landed. Tonga international Agnatius Paasi is another newcomer.
But, even without those arrivals, there is a glittering array of talent at Saints, so it should be another exciting year for Kristian Woolf’s side.
And Saints captain James Roby admits his side are fuelled by a desire to emulate old rivals Leeds Rhinos by winning a third successive title.
The legendary Saints hooker has skippered his hometown club to Grand Final wins in each of the past two seasons.
Only Leeds have achieved three in a row – in 2007, 2008 and 2009 – all of them having beaten the Saints in the final – but Roby’s team have a chance to rewrite the history books this year.
“We’re aware of it and to potentially win three in a row would be so special,” said Roby.
“We’ve done well in the past couple of years to win two in a row, so to go on and do three – which has only been done by that Leeds team – would be a fantastic achievement.
“Talking openly about it, it’s in the back of our minds so everybody has thought about that and we’re all aware of the challenge ahead and the opportunity, if you like.
“But there is a long way to go until then and I’m sure a lot of teams will be wanting to bring us back down to earth, being the back-to-back champions."
Roby made his Saints debut in March 2004 aged 18, and is universally recognised as one of Super League’s finest players in history.
He is aiming to round of a potentially historic year with St. Helens by representing England at the World Cup.
“We’ll just start the season as we normally do and hopefully we can knock out the performances to the standards we want,” he added.
“And then further down the line, hopefully put ourselves in a position to win trophies. We’ll be doing everything we can to achieve that.”
The Saints will be looking for an elusive three-peat this year, and they are in pole position to do so.
They have bolstered their pack with the additions of Joel Thompson, Agnatius Paasi and Sione Mata’utia, which will only enhance the performances of their exciting array of youth pulling through the ranks.
There is a winning mentality at St Helens, one which we can't look past - regardless of the off-season spending from the likes of Wigan and Warrington.
Another League Leaders Shield will be heading to the Totally Wicked Stadium this season.
VAVEL Predicts - 1st.