St Helens begin the defence of their Super League crown at Langtree Park against Catalan Dragons on Friday night.

New head coach Kieron Cunningham is without half-back Luke Walsh, who hasn’t recovered from surgery he had following his broken leg. However Cunningham, who won five Super League titles as a player with Saints, names new signings Travis Burns and Atelea Vea in his 19 man squad.

Full-back Jonny Lomax returns from knee surgery and newly appointed club captain Jon Wilkin is also in the squad after both missed out on the Old Trafford victory over rivals Wigan in last year’s Grand Final.

Saints, who overcame a seemingly endless injury list to win the Super League title for the first time since 2006, will be without forwards Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Luke Thompson for the visit of the French side.

Laurent Frayssinous will hand a Super League debut to controversial stand-off Todd Carney, who joined the club during the off season. He will be partnered by Thomas Bosc, after Scott Dureau suffered a groin muscle tear in training.

Remi Casty has returned to the Perpignan club for a second spell and has been named co-captain, along with Greg Mounis, and both are in the squad for Friday night’s match.

Former Australia test centre Willie Tonga will make his debut for the Dragons too.

Saints beat Catalan 30-12 in last season’s Play-Off semi-final at Langtree Park, but the French side had won 4 of their previous 6 visits to St Helens in the regular season prior to that defeat.

St Helens (from): Lomax, Makinson, Turner, Jones, Swift, Burns, Masoe, Roby, Amor, Vea, Wilkin, Walmsley, Flanagan, Hohaia, Percival, Richards, Wellens, Greenwood, Savelio.

Catalans Dragons (from): Escare, Duport, Pomeroy, Tonga, Oldfield, Carney, Elima, Henderson, Casty, Taia, Anderson, Mounis, Bosc, Lima, Pelissier, Whitehead, Garcia, Bousquet, Baitieri.

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