Betfred Super League play-offs 2021: St Helens vs Leeds Rhinos talking points and team news
Defending Super League champions and Challenge Cup winners St Helens host the Leeds Rhinos with a place in the 2021 Super League Grand Final on the line. Watch the semi-final at the Totally Wicked Stadium live on Sky Sports Arena from 7pm on Friday (kick-off, 7.45pm)
Last Updated: 02/10/21 1:07pm
We look at what is being said and team news ahead of the Super League semi-final clash between defending champions St Helens and Leeds Rhinos, live on Sky Sports...
Leeds forward Zane Tetevano will go into Friday's Super League semi-final against St Helens aiming to make up for lost time in his first season in England.
The 30-year-old former Kiwi international has played just half of the Rhinos' 26 league and cup matches so far in 2021 and says he owes his fellow forwards a big performance as he looks to atone for his absences.
The former Newcastle, Sydney Roosters and Penrith loose forward was sent off - for the first time in his career - in his third game in England, for a late tackle in Leeds' Challenge Cup defeat at St Helens, and subsequently banned for four matches.
He then missed six games through a combination of injury and Covid before picking up a three-match ban after being sin-binned at Wigan for a high tackle.
Players like skipper Matt Prior have helped shoulder much of the workload in his absence and Tetevano admits it is time for him to show his gratitude.
"I owe my team-mates a lot," he said. "Hopefully I can do that this weekend.
"Matt Prior has played nearly every game this year and I want to help him out in that department.
"I'm pretty much fresher than a lot of other players. It was good to get that first game out of the way last week. Obviously I'd been out for three weeks and the body feels good.
"I'm now trying to gather some match fitness. The year hasn't turned out how I planned but it is what it is, I'm just looking forward to this weekend."
Leeds will go to the Totally Wicked Stadium as clear underdogs as Saints look to remain on target for a third successive Grand Final triumph, which would see them match the feat of the Rhinos from 2007-09.
Tetevano, who was a Grand Final winner with Sydney Roosters in 2018, appreciates the size of the task awaiting his team and is hoping he can lend his experience to get them over the line.
"My personal goal was to win a championship, although we can't look too far ahead," he said. "This week against Saints is going to be a big one.
"They're a great side, the form side of the year, them and Catalans. They're a well-structured team, well-drilled defensively and compete hard so we have to step up. We've got a big job in front of us."
Tetevano's opposite number Morgan Knowles believes St Helens' success in the Challenge Cup this year has taken the pressure off his team as they seek to retain their title.
"If anything, winning the Challenge Cup has probably taken a weight off our shoulders," he said. "We waited a long time to tick that one off.
"It feels like a bit of relief and has probably taken a bit of pressure of us. It was already a successful season so it gives us a bit of a free shot."
Leeds coach Richard Agar is considering making changes to the team which won 8-0 at Wigan, which could mean a return for second rower Alex Mellor, who has been out for two months with a knee injury and was among a host of absentees when the Rhinos lost 40-6 at Saints three weeks ago.
Knowles added: "They've got a couple of bodies back, especially in the middle. We're expecting a different test to last time."
In terms of team news, St Helens are at full strength with the exception of long-term injury victims Theo Fages and James Bentley. Back rower Sione Mata'utia is fit after sitting out the last game with a leg injury while prop Agnatius Paasi has served his two-match suspension.
Leeds are likely to stick with the team that won at Wigan after coach Agar named an unchanged 21-man squad, although he has the option to draft in Mellor, King Vuniyayawa, Jack Broadbent and Morgan Gannon, who were all left out of last week's 17.
This season's results: St Helens 40 Leeds 6.
Last six league matches: St Helens WWWLWL Leeds WLWLWW.
Top try scorers: Jack Welsby (St Helens) 13; Brad Dwyer (Leeds) 10.
Top goal scorers: Lachlan Coote (St Helens) 72; Rhyse Martin (Leeds) 83.
St Helens' 21-man squad: Coote, Makinson, Naiqama, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Thompson, Knowles, Mata'utia, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Amor, Paasi, Welsby, Smith, Batchelor, Dodd, Wingfield, Davies
Leeds Rhinos' 21-man squad: T. Briscoe, Newman, Hurrell, Handley, Lui, Oledzki, Leeming, Prior, Mellor, Martin, Tetevano, Dwyer, Myler, Smith, Holroyd, Vuniyayawe, Thompson, L. Briscoe, Donaldson, Broadbent, Gannon