Super League: Sunday's talking points and team news
Three games in the Betfred Super League on Sunday; St Helens vs Castleford Tigers (1pm), Leeds Rhinos vs Salford Red Devils and Wakefield Trinity vs Catalans Dragons (both 3pm)
By Sky Sports Rugby League
Last Updated: 05/08/22 6:02pm
We look at what is being said and team news as Round 22 of the Betfred Super League season concludes with three games on Sunday...
St Helens vs Castleford Tigers (1pm)
Kristian Woolf believes the return of Tommy Makinson will prove beneficial for St Helens for a multitude of reasons when they host Castleford on Sunday.
Saints are aiming to bounce back from a surprise 44-12 defeat away to Salford Red Devils last week and take a step closer to securing the League Leaders' Shield this year.
Prolific try-scorer and goal-kicking winger Makinson is set to make his return from four games out and head coach Woolf sees him bringing more than just his point-scoring ability to the team.
"The way he carries out of yardage, the way he puts his hand up to make 18 to 20 carries a game, the work he does defensively, the work he does in terms of his position and the way he can finish, he's got a lot of attributes he brings to the team," Woolf said in his pre-match press conference.
"Probably one of the most important ones is his positivity; he's a talker, he's always positive and always up for the contest. He brings a positive energy to the group and coming off the back of a performance we're not happy with, that's going to be important."
Dan Norman and Sam Royle return to St Helens' 21-man squad too, while Curtis Sironen has been passed fit after suffering a bicep injury at Salford. Agnatius Paasi is out due to concussion protocols though.
Sosaia Feki is named in Castleford's squad for the first time in 2022, while Gareth O'Brien, Alex Mellor and Cheyse Blair are back too.
Castleford beat St Helens 30-10 at home in April and scored a rare away victory over the reigning champions on their last visit to Totally Wicked Stadium, although head coach Lee Radford knows his side must make a better start than in last week's 32-6 derby defeat against Wakefield.
"We looked tired from the off," Radford said. "The acid test in a rugby league game is the opening exchanges and we failed miserably in that department. I felt we looked very lacklustre with the ball.
"It seems like we fell down the stairs. We're going to have to dust ourselves down and get back to what works for us."
St Helens: Jack Welsby, Tommy Makinson, Jonny Lomax, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Matty Lees, Joe Batchelor, Morgan Knowles, Joey Lussick, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Curtis Sironen, Jake Wingfield, James Bell, Ben Davies, Konrad Hurrell, Dan Norman, Sam Royle, Jon Bennison, Lewis Baxter, Dan Hill, Taylor Pemberton.
Castleford Tigers: Derrell Olpherts, Bureta Faraimo, Danny Richardson, Liam Watts, Paul McShane, Kenny Edwards, Adam Milner, Joe Westerman, George Griffin, Mahe Fonua, Alex Sutcliffe, Greg Eden, Cheyse Blair, Suaia Matagi, Brad Martin, Sam Hall, Sosaia Feki, Gareth O'Brien, Cain Robb, Jason Qareqare, Alex Mellor.
Leeds Rhinos vs Salford Red Devils (3pm)
Rohan Smith expects more improvement to come from his Leeds team as they mount a late push for a place in the Super League play-offs.
Back-to-back wins over high-flying Wigan Warriors and Catalans Dragons mean the Rhinos go into Sunday's match hot on the heels of the teams above them vying for sixth place in the table.
One of those are this week's visitors to Headingley in Salford and head coach Smith is encouraged by what he has seen from his team, particularly after last week's 36-32 golden point win over Catalans Dragons.
"We're training so we can finish games strongly which has come through in most of our recent games," Smith said.
"I love the squad I have; we have a role to play in trying to build our roster, but I love our group, it's a journey and we are improving week to week.
"We still haven't played our first-choice team so I'm still hopeful there is more improvement in us."
Leeds are without Matt Prior, who begins a two-match suspension following his red card in the win over Catalans, with Zane Tetevano and David Fusitu'a returning to the 21-man squad.
Salford have Shane Wright, Harvey Livett and Tyler Dupree back for the trip to the Rhinos as they aim to build on last week's win over St Helens.
"Without sounding casual about it, we have been building towards that," Red Devils head coach Paul Rowley, voted as Super League's coach of the month for July, said.
"From day one the lads have worked really hard. Things like that are not a fluke, it's a result of hard work."
Leeds Rhinos: David Fusitu'a, Harry Newman, Liam Sutcliffe, Ash Handley, Aidan Sezer, Mikolaj Oledzki, James Bentley, Rhyse Martin, Zane Tetevano, Brad Dwyer, Richie Myler, Cameron Smith, Bodene Thompson, Morgan Gannon, Sam Walters, Jarrod O'Connor, James Donaldson, Corey Johnson, Muizz Mustapha, Liam Tindall, Zak Hardaker.
Salford Red Devils: Ryan Brierley, Ken Sio, Kallum Watkins, Tim Lafai, Joe Burgess, Brodie Croft, Marc Sneyd, Sitaleki Akauola, Andy Ackers, Greg Burke, Shane Wright, Elijah Taylor, Ryan Lannon, Harvey Livett, Chris Atkin, Jack Ormondroyd, Dan Sarginson, Sam Luckley, Deon Cross, Alex Gerrard, Tyler Dupree.
Wakefield Trinity vs Catalans Dragons (3pm)
Sam Tomkins knows Catalans need to start producing more consistent displays if they are to repeat last year's Super League Grand Final appearance.
The Dragons lie fourth in the table following last week's defeat to Leeds and have not enjoyed back-to-back wins since a three-game streak spanning April and May.
England captain Tomkins felt the loss to the Rhinos underlined their inconsistency and he is in no doubt the team are not playing to their full potential.
"The last month we've been inconsistent and last weekend showed that," Tomkins said. "The first 60 minutes were very good and the last 60 minutes were very bad, so we need to change this.
"If we look at the squad we have, we're not at our potential yet, but we're still in fourth position. We're not happy, but we're still in fourth."
Catalans have not been helped by injuries and suspensions this season but do welcome back Tom Davies and Tyrone May for Sunday's trip to Wakefield.
Trinity head into the match buoyed by last week's derby win over Castleford and are aiming to put more breathing space between themselves and bottom side Toulouse Olympique.
"The fight is still on, there's a long road ahead and the challenge for us…is to go and do that again," head coach Willie Poching said.
Wakefield Trinity: Jacob Miller, Mason Lino, Eddie Battye, Liam Hood, Tinirau Arona, Matty Ashurst, Kelepi Tanginoa, Jordy Crowther, Jai Whitbread, James Batchelor, Lee Gaskell, Lee Kershaw, Brad Walker, Yusuf Aydin, Lewis Murphy, Isaac Shaw, Corey Hall, David Fifita, Kyle Evans, Josh Bowden, Jamie Shaul.
Catalans Dragons: Arthur Mourgue, Tom Davies, Samisoni Langi, Dean Whare, Fouad Yaha, Mitchell Pearce, Josh Drinkwater, Michael McIlorum, Alrix Da Costa, Benjamin, Jullien, Paul Seguier, Mickael Goudemand, Arthur Romano, Tyrone May, Corentin Le Cam, Mathieu Cozza, Cesar Rouge, Romain Franco, Sam Kasiano, Sam Tomkins, Tiaki Chan.