SAINTS prop Alex Walmsley believes the big game experience in the squad will count for plenty in the battle for the title.

Despite playing with confidence and stringing together three wins to put them on the shoulders of the leading pack, the real work begins now.

Saints hit the Super 8s with form and high hopes that seemed well and truly dashed only a matter of weeks ago.

Walmsley said: “Confidence is high at the moment but we are not confusing that with arrogance.

“We certainly know it is going to be a tough period of the season and we are not counting any chickens.

“We are still adrift of the top four.

“We are approaching games knowing we have to win games, we need to catch up some points.

“Four weeks ago people wrote us off after Leeds. But it has been that kind of year where any team in the top eight can make the four.

“We are happy with that – our destiny is in our own hands and we are not relying on other teams to do us favours.

“We have seven big games; seven big performances to pick up as many wins as we can and I am sure we can make the top four.”

One of the key improvements in recent weeks is the way the middles have been operating.

Although Walmsley, with his big metres, and the straight hard running of Luke Thompson have caught the eye, the unit has been complementing each other.

The big prop credited the input of coach Justin Holbrook in providing the tweaks and changes that have paid dividends.

Walmsley said: “Justin has stripped us back in how we run our attack and we have got the basics going well.

“Tommo has come of age in the last couple of months. His game plan is as simple as it comes – he runs and tackles as hard as he can plus he is full of enthusiasm.

“We are complementing each other at the minute. If you look at Louie (McCarthy-Scarsbrook), he is working really hard at the minute and bringing so much energy with his kick chase pressures.

“There are parts of the game – the 1 per centers, those parts of the game that nobody really want to do because they exert energy, but they are pivotal and put the team on a good platform.

“They are maybe the things you don’t notice on the terrace but as a group we appreciate it, Kyle does his bit and we have experience in Duggy (Luke Douglas).

“We have got a good middle with Wilko and Morgan Knowles adding a bit of flair to that.”

All eyes this year have been on Castleford, Hull, a resurgent Leeds and the new kids on the block Salford and Wakefield.

Saints, up to now, have not been considered as contenders - and that suits.

“We have quietly gone about our business and gone under the radar.

“We have played these sort of games forever and a day. There are players in the locker room who have won Challenge Cups and Super League trophies – we have big game players and we are going to reap as much as we can from those because we will need it going forward,” said the 27-year-old.

“If you cast your mind back to 2015 – it was your Jamie Peacocks and Kevin Sinfields who dragged Leeds through the back end of the year.

“We are relying on the experience in our camp to help us through these games.”

Signed from Batley in 2013, Walmsley has developed into an international player at Saints and has an eye on the World Cup in the autumn.

But he has a busy couple of months ahead to occupy him and will become a dad for the first time in September.

“Myself and Simone have a little boy on his way in six weeks.

“Rugby is hard enough but I keep getting told being a father is ten times harder.

“It is exciting. We have kitted out the spare room and hopefully this will help cheer me on to another Grand Final,” he said.

Walmsley is still in the England training squad - and went with the party to Australia in mid season, but along with Mark Percival, never made the team.

“The World Cup is still an aim of mine. When I went over with the squad to play Samoa, missing out on the 17 was gutting but it re-ignited my ambition to play for England.

“I am not sure how it would go down, but I’d be leaving a four week old baby at home if I got picked – I would have to let mam control that one!”

With regards to his contract, Walmsley has been subject to specualtion because his expires at the end of 2018.

But he was not thinking about that at the moment.

"I am thinking about the present at the minute and Im not thinking about contracts. We will assess things a bit closer to the time.

"Obviously there has been rumours, but I will be here next year and I am looking forward to 2018," he said.