SAINTS’ Grand Final winning-coach Justin Holbrook still had a smile on his face when he gave his responses to the Star’s Mike Critchley, in his final Q&A.

MC: Big Al and Luke Thompson really hit the ball up strongly?

JH: We have been playing with a lot of intensity all year and really stepped it up in the semi-final against Wigan where we played so well, but we all knew we would have to do it again.

Credit to the players to keep that intent for the Grand Final – it was great to watch.

St Helens Star:

MC: It was hard and fast – it made it a good game with no messing?

JH: It was a high quality game because Salford had done an outstanding job to get to the Grand Final.

They hung on after our great start and finished the half better when they got that try. We sort of needed half time to regroup and go again.

The second half we were in control which was the sort of way we have played all year.

We did not go there nervous or anything, just confident that the boys would deliver.

It was a very fast-paced game and high quality. I thought we dominated field position and justified a 12-6 lead at half time considering how well Salford played at the back end of that half.

MC: How important was half time - and what needed to be said?

JH: The players just needed to rest.

The big message was we had to just keep concentrating on what we had to do because 10 minutes before the break Salford started offloading the ball and getting the second phase play and that is where they are dangerous, with Jackson Hastings and Tui Lolohea coming into their own and becoming a handful.

We had to really concentrate on what we wanted to do to get the focus back on that and the players did a fantastic job in that second half.

St Helens Star:

MC: The killer try from Mark Percival - a deserved reward for the way he worked all night?

JH: For Percy to come up with that try was just what we needed – and what a great kick.

To run that fast but then be able to kick soft is a fantastic piece of skill.

It is easier if you are kicking for somebody else because you don’t have to chase it.

But for him to come in on an angle, kick it in and then get around people and get to the ball shows he is a freakish talent.

St Helens Star:

MC: What can you say about Tommy Makinson - staying out there with a dislocated shoulder?

JH: For Tommy Makinson to have his shoulder pop out at the start of the second half and then stay out on the field for the rest of the game is a great story for any game, let alone a Grand Final.

We had to see how he went. We knew he was in pain – and to his credit he stayed out there.

For him to carry on that game I thought it typified our whole determination to win the game.

Likewise with Percy, who picked up that rib injury during the game.

We had some wounded troops out there; Big Al hurt his knee, as did Jonny. We had some busted blokes out there but there was a real determination to get that win.

Morgan Knowles has also been struggling with his shoulder.

MC: Have you ever experienced an atmosphere like that before?

JH: No it was fantastic. Two years ago – 2017 – I forced myself to go along to the Grand Final to experience it, watch it and work to hard to get there. To finally get back there, be part of it and see our team win was brilliant

MC: Was that scrum play straight of the training ground?

JH: It worked well, didn’t it? I am not big on set plays, but I had noticed the way Salford always play on their try line with nobody on the short side.

In a couple of NRL Grand finals - including the one Cootey won in 2015 - the hooker ran from back of the scrum and turned it back inside.

Sharks did it two years later so I thought it must be a Grand Final play.

It worked really great for us.

A lot of it was in the timing – we knew they would break quickly from the scrum and we were lucky enough that Robes executed it perfectly and Seb was good enough to score.

St Helens Star:

MC: Morgan Knowles’ opening score looked pretty well-rehearsed too?

JH: Both he and Big Al work on that in training every week

The beauty of it is that Big Al is such a dangerous carrier. if you don’t come in on him he is gong to run over the top of you so it forced them to come in and allowed Al to throw that soft pass.

Morgan has been one of the best support players in the team to get that reward on a day as big as a Grand Final was a huge credit for both of them.

MC: Will World Club Challenge happen?

JH: I think so and hope so.

I would love to see both Grand Finals played on same weekend and that would allow you to play the WCC the week after so you have the same two teams.

If the boys play as well as they did last Saturday – they will go a long way to beat the Roosters.