Rugby League talking points: Kevin Naiqama shines for St Helens, Warrington keep up pursuit
Last Updated: 06/05/19 4:49pm
The exceptional form of St Helens' Kevin Naiqama, Warrington's pursuit of the Super League leaders and Jackson Hastings' future feature in this week's talking points.
Naiqama flourishes for Saints
There is no stopping St Helens, with the Super League leaders clinching their 13th win in 14 matches after defeating Hull KR 42-26 on Sunday.
Kevin Naiqama was in electrifying form as he scored a hat-trick for the Saints. The Fijian full-back also scored four tries during St Helens' win over Hull in their Easter Monday game.
St Helens head coach Justin Holbrook hailed the contribution of Naiqama and it is clear he has a significant role to play if the side are to go on to lift silverware this season.
Holbrook said: "Kevin was outstanding. His last four to six weeks is what we have wanted from him."
"He is building into the team nicely," added Holbrook of the 30-year-old centre who joined the Saints from NRL outfit Wests Tigers for the start of the season.
Tommy Makinson also starred for St Helens with a hat-trick against Hull KR in their eight-try win.
Warrington keeping up the pressure
Despite St Helens' outstanding form at the top of the Super League, Warrington are keeping up the pressure. The Wolves stayed within four points of them after a 26-14 victory at Castleford in their latest match.
Steve Price's side clinched their third successive victory to give them a six-point cushion over third-placed Wakefield.
It may still be early days in this campaign but already St Helens and Warrington have firmly established themselves as the two front runners.
The performances of Man of Steel favourite Blake Austin have undoubtedly given Warrington an extra attacking dimension since his move from Australia and his form could be crucial to their chances of winning the competition.
Full-back Jack Johnson also made his long-awaited return from injury against Castleford, after recovering from a double leg break suffered in training before the start of the 2018 campaign.
Johnson lined up alongside four other successful graduates from the Wolves' academy, in Declan Patton, Harvey Livett, Joe Philbin and Toby King, as they all played together for the first time in the senior team.
Hastings keeping his options open
With the window for contract negotiations to sign players for next season opening at the start of May, clubs are busy trying to prioritise their recruitment targets.
Jackson Hastings is certainly in the spotlight again, with the Salford Red Devils stand-off turning down a move to Wigan last year.
Hastings' future is up for debate but the highly-rated 23-year-old insists he has yet to make a decision on which club he will be playing for next season.
Speaking as a guest on Sky Sports' coverage of Wigan's win over London, Hastings said: "I'm in no rush, I suppose I've just got to do what's best for me.
"I love the club and there's obviously going to be other options out there, but I've just got to take time to think about it, consult the right people and go from there."
Catalans building momentum
Catalans made a relatively slow start to the campaign but the French club are running into form, having moved into a dangerous position for the second half of the season.
The Dragons scored six tries during their one-sided 37-6 win at Hull FC on Friday. Their victory moved them up to fourth in the standings and only behind Wakefield on score difference.
With three wins in their last four games, Steve McNamara's side are building momentum and confidence. After last season's Challenge Cup triumph, Catalans will be targeting a Super League challenge and their recent form suggests they cannot be discounted.
Wigan need clarity over coach
It has been a turbulent season for Wigan, on and off the pitch, with the Super League champions struggling at the wrong end of the table.
The Warriors are eighth in the division after grinding out an 18-8 win over London. But Wigan great Martin Offiah believes the club need to resolve the issue over their long-term coach sooner rather than later.
With Shaun Edwards no longer taking charge, there has been talk of Adrian Lam keeping the role beyond the end of this season.
Offiah is convinced a decision is necessary to give the team continuity and enable the next coach to plan for the future.
He said: "Regardless of who is coaching them, are they going to have the personnel? It's all very well having the greatest coach in the world - if you haven't got the personnel on the pitch to do the job, he will find it hard.
"I think they have to get their strategy right, moving forward and get things in place. Whoever is going to come in, you want them to be in position as early as possible."