Masoe tipped to shine
St Helens' star signing Mose Masoe will miss the start of Super League XIX through injury but Nathan Brown expects him to be a success in 2014.
Brown is adopting the policy of his former club Huddersfield, the 2013 league leaders, in going for size and believes the addition of the 6ft 6in, 20st 4lb Masoe, alongside fellow recruits Rich Beaumont, who is 6ft 3in and weighs 16st 3lb, and Kyle Amor, 6ft 2in and 16st 3lb, will provide his side with one of the most intimidating packs in the competition.
"Last year we had a lot of good front rowers but a lot of them were more lower centre of gravity," Brown said. "We felt we lacked a bit of size."
Saints paraded their new signings, who also include Masoe's former Penrith Panthers team-mate, scrum-half Luke Walsh, at the first Super League club pre-season media day at Langtree Park.
Masoe, who made a big impact with his rampaging runs and crunching tackles for Samoa in the recent World Cup, revealed he defied injury to play in the last two fixtures after damaging ankle ligaments against France.
He recently underwent surgery and is expected to sit out St Helens' opening fixture against Warrington on February 13 and the opening home game against Hull but should be fit to make his Super League debut in March.
"The club didn't want to take the risk of having it done during the middle of the year so I had quick surgery just before the New Year and I should be back hopefully two weeks into the season," Masoe said.
"It's frustrating but one wise man said 'it's not how you take off, it's how you land'. Hopefully it's a little hiccup. They chuck a couple of screws in and it's meant to be good forever."
Masoe, who is set to be a regular on the bench, believes his blockbusting style of play will be suited to Super League and, with his charming Polynesian smile, is expected to become a firm fans' favourite.
"I'm not the fittest player but I'll give it my all when I get on the field," said the Wellington-born front rower who rejected an offer from Hull 12 months ago because his partner was pregnant. "Like any player, you like to get on there and rip in.
"I'm a player that loves to play off the fans, I just want to run harder and run faster and tackle harder. I also like to throw the ball around, get an offload in.
"They says it's a faster game over here because of the ruck control and it's tougher because of the volume of games you play. It really tests your body.
"I'm always smiling so the other fans probably won't like me. Hopefully they will like me."
Brown brought in Masoe, as well as Beaumont from Hull KR and Amor from Wakefield, following the departure of Josh Perry and Tony Puletua and is confident the Samoan powerhouse will make a big impact.
"He's a likeable character and I like to think he will provide some personality for the game," Brown said.
"He's obviously quite a big lad, isn't he? We hope he can provide a nice platform for Robes (James Roby) and Luke Walsh and those guys to play off.
"It takes a lot to pull him down and he's got a certain skill set that we think will help us improve."
Saints, who recovered from a disastrous first half of 2013 to finish fifth in Brown's first season, are expected to once more challenge for honours and have been installed third favourites to win the Grand Final behind
arch rivals Wigan and Warrington.
As well as adding size to his pack, Brown expects the signing of Walsh to provide the missing piece of the jigsaw. He tried more than a dozen different half-back combinations last year before settling on Lance Hohaia and Jon Wilkin but will be delighted to switch the latter to his customary back-row slot this year.
is obviously a really important signing," he said. "I'm hopeful he can provide something I feel the club has lacked since Sean Long retired.
"He has a really good kicking game and is an organising type of half who I think can complement the players around him."