SAINTS coach Justin Holbrook had plenty to review after the opening round of Super League, when the Star’s Mike Critchley caught up with him at the training ground.

MC: Generally speaking a good start on the field for Super League's fresh start?

JH: Right from the season launch I thought Robert Elstone has done a good job in getting the excitement back in our game.

With how many fans turned up at the weekend and the high level of rugby league that was played was a credit to everyone involved with the club.

St Helens Star:

MC: The scoreline probably does not reflect Saints’ dominance, do you agree?

JH: I thought we did play really well, but to Wigan’s credit they found a way of hanging in there. That is how they won the comp last year.

I did feel like we were dominating the game, but it was 12-12 at half time and we had to fight pretty hard in the second half, which we did do.

Credit to the players, it was a tough game and a fast one, they lifted when they needed to most. And that was great to watch.

MC: How much smarter are you having to be with the subs now down to eight?

JH: It is going to be a lot harder with a lot more tactics around the interchange. They are all great new rules, but with this one we have to be smarter how we use the interchange. But it worked well for us at the weekend.

St Helens Star:

MC: Big Al has shown some bottle to get himself out there after the injury he has had?

JH: It is so good for our squad to have Big Al back on the pitch. He has worked so hard and to finally get him out there was terrific. He will get much better over the next few weeks and play longer minutes.

MC: What was the most pleasing aspect of that 80 minutes?

JH: The way we looked in control of the game. I thought our attack and defence looked really well-organised. I was pleased with our overall style of play and the way we went about it. Everyone was really smart and knew what they were doing.

That was the most pleasing thing, considering it was round one and we only played the one friendly. I know this team will get better as the season moves on.

St Helens Star:

MC: Knitting your halves with Lachlan Coote, particularly his last tackle plays seemed to work, is that something that will evolve depending on who plays half?

JH: Lachlan will definitely be as heavily involved all year. He is such a smart player and a calming influence on our side.

The more he is around the ball and the things he does, the better the team is going to be. It is a luxury having a left foot kicker in the team - and such a good kicker that it gives us so many more options. He has a big job to play for us.

MC: Defensively Coote’s ability to anticipate where the ball was going to be was exceptional?

JH: His anticipation on the play is as good as I have seen. I know it is only round one and I don’t want to put too much pressure on him, but it is a strength to his game. He pops up all the time where the ball is and the really good players have a knack of doing that. It is not lucky, it is an understanding of the game and putting themselves in a good position.

St Helens Star:

MC: Was Thursday an indication on how you will use your bench - with four forwards?

JH: Early in the year when the big fellas need to get match fit it could be the best way to go. But generally there is going to be that one spot we can play around with, we will see how that pans out over the next few weeks.

MC: Morgan Knowles's performances can go under the radar, but he was everywhere on Thursday?

JH: He was the one I singled out as being the best in pre-season and he took that into round one and played massive minutes for us. He is so busy and his workrate is really high, he had a fantastic game.

MC: It was freezing last week - begs the question is the season starting too early?

JH: We understand what the season is and we have got to get on with it and work hard, but enjoy it.

It is a long season but we can’t be getting caught up in that otherwise it becomes a drag.

I want to give the fans a wrap. To turn up in such big numbers given how cold it was is a massive effort.

The new players in particular commentated that they had a lot of respect for the fans who turned out because it was freezing and it would have been so easy to stay at home and watch it on TV.

That is the beauty of our sport.

St Helens Star:

MC: Heard good reports about the Saints quartet at Leigh at the weekend?

JH: I went watching them and they were terrific, Jack Ash, Duggie, Az Smith and Cossy were fantastic in a great win over Toulouse. It was a good game at a high standard and our four did Saints and Leigh proud on how well they played.

Hopefully it is a partnership that will benefit both parties, anyone of our boys who go over there and play their absolute best then Leigh are going to benefit from that.

St Helens Star:

MC: Some big contract announcements this past week and they keep coming?

JH: They are huge for the club. Robes typifies everything St Helens is about as a town and a club. He’s hardworking, honest and durable.

To have Tommy Mak re-sign given so much interest from NRL clubs - and to have him stay for another four years was a huge bonus for the club and everyone who follows us.

And Jonny Lomax is coming into his best years as a rugby league player.

He looks very determined, as ever, to have a big season after a terrific year last year.