SAINTS boss Kristian Woolf answered the Star's Mike Critchley's questions ahead of toda's big game against Wigan.

MC: How have the players been in camp leading up to this first Saints v Wigan derby of 2020?

KW: They have had a great energy about them all week and trained really well.

They are feeling good. The last couple of weeks there has been a lot of excitement about the players; excited about the contest that is coming up and what it is and means.

It was the same, to be honest with the cup game with Warrington. I like the feel of the group at the moment.

St Helens Star:

MC: Does the fact that Wigan have made 10 changes influence what you do with your selection?

KW: We stick with our plans, even though we had done a bit of preparation through the week on certain players but that changes a little bit.

There is no bigger rivalry in the game, it is a real local derby and a game with so much history.

We know we have got a tough battle on our hands no matter who Wigan pick and it would be the same if we had some changes to our side. It is going to be a great contest.

Any of the local juniors they have brought through will have grown up not liking St Helens - our juniors grow up the same with Wigan.

It is a game we are excited for and it is an important two points as well.

MC: Two points are vital, too, given how tight that top five is battling for four play-off spots and now into the second half of the programme?

KW: It is a shortened season and there will be periods where we will be playing games on top of each other and they are starting to happen now for everybody.

Every week is really important and teams are battling to get into a top four.

MC: Has the timing of this fixture, before the cup semi, and the subsequent changed team taken any shine of the match?

KW: We are taking nothing for granted from our point of view - it is still a really important game and one we are really looking forward.

St Helens Star:

MC: With Mark Percival out, does Josh Simm get first shot to carry on what he was doing two and three weeks ago?

KW: Josh will get a crack there because he was going really well before the cup game and was only left out because Mark Percival came back and has so many runs on the board.

He is developing really well and is going to be a good player for the future. He will only get better by playing more and more games. He just needs to worry about this week at the moment and he will get that opportunity and this is a big game for him to get that chance.

St Helens Star:

MC: This is the last week of Tommy Makinson's ban, how much has he been missed?

KW: Tommy is a great player; you talk about his finishing ability and his work out of yardage he brings a real energy and is nice and vocal. He does a lot of really good things for us and you do miss those players.

But I have been happy with what Jack Welsby has done. And when Matty Costello has come in he too has done a good job.

You will miss players from time to time but those players that come in need to be confident enough to express themselves and play to the best of their ability.

I have been happy with what they have done. While we will certainly welcome Tommy back, Jack Welsby has shown that we need to find a spot for him somewhere in the team and at some stage we will figure out what we do there.