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RugbyL: Puletua boosts St Helens boss Brown

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

St Helens head coach Nathan Brown says the availability of Tony Puletua and Ade Gardener for Saturday's Challenge Cup fourth-round clash with Hull KR has tempered the disappointment caused by Jonny Lomax's delayed injury return.

Utility back Lomax suffered a hamstring injury five weeks ago and was expected to return for the Challenge Cup fixture with the Robins - one of just two all Super League clashes in the fourth round.

However, the 22-year-old's comeback has been delayed after he suffered an injury setback.

Brown was unable to call on seven regulars for his team's 22-12 Super League defeat at home to Catalan Dragons last time out.

But two will be back for the Challenge Cup tie, with winger Gardner set to join former New Zealand international Puletua, who made over 200 appearances for Penrith in the NRL, in returning.

And Brown insists he is focusing on the positives of having Puletua and Gardner back rather than dwelling on the negatives of the delay in Lomax's road to recovery.

"It is great to have Ade Gardner and Tony Puletua back. They are experienced blokes and are welcome returnees," said former St George head coach Brown.

"We have had our share of misfortune but that's the way it is and we move on. It is not ideal to lose players but it's a part of the game and probably better now than in 10 to 12 weeks.

"The good thing is we have held up under a lot of pressure and competed hard. We have also created chances to win and haven't taken them.

"The fight and commitment is there but we have to tighten up."

Meanwhile, Brian Noble has been confirmed as the new coach of Salford but will allow caretaker boss Alan Hunte to remain in charge for their Challenge Cup tie against the University of Gloucestershire.

Noble takes over with the Reds bottom of the Super League and has vowed to only sign players who don't care about the size of their wage packet.

"First and foremost, the criteria is players have to want to be at Salford. It isn't any good pulling in a load of mercenaries," he said.

"It just doesn't work. The bottom line is you have got to want to be here.

"Signing players of the right quality takes time. The criteria for bringing players in is they have to improve the team.

"So if there aren't any available this year, they won't be brought in."

Hull FC face the Crusaders on Sunday, having confirmed the release of scrum-half Brett Seymour.

The 28-year-old, who played for Brisbane, Cronulla and the New Zealand Warriors in the NRL, has been on compassionate leave since being involved in a car accident in March.

And Hull FC director of rugby Shaun McRae said: "Brett is at a stage where he needs to be concentrating on a number of important aspects of his life, other than rugby league.

"He leaves Hull FC with our best wishes for the future."

Fixtures

Friday

Leeds v Castleford, Widnes v Doncaster, Wigan v Leigh

Saturday

Hull KR v St Helens, London Broncos v Featherstone, Hemel v Wakefield

Sunday

Hull FC v Crusaders, Hunslet v Catalan Dragons, Batley v Huddersfield, University of Gloucestershire v Salford, Keighley v Warrington, Rochdale v Bradford

str/smg/bc

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130417/rugbyl-puletua-boosts-st-helens-boss-brown