SAINTS boss Kristian Woolf was asked about Lewis Dodd, recruitment, preparations for three in eight and the Leeds game when the Star's Mike Critchley caught up with him.

MC: What do you expect from Leeds on Friday night?

KW: Leeds are going to come in really confident. They have played some good footy and will be buoyed by the fact that they have just won a major trophy and that all adds to the challenge.

They will be better for playing and winning a tight, big game.

There is a fair bit at stake in the next couple of weeks and every game is important and I can’t see Leeds being anything but at their best. It will be a really big challenge for us.

St Helens Star:

MC: Tommy Makinson took his tries well, all done with an injured hand. Is he ok?

KW: Tommy had a bit of a bump on his hand from the week before at Wakefield, but that is something we can manage – he will be fine going forward as he showed at the weekend.

St Helens Star:

MC: Lewis Dodd shone again, and has a great skillset and confidence – does he need to work on anything to run the team?

KW: He has got most of what he needs to be honest. The fact that he is so confident for a young bloke means you can throw him in there. He knows he belongs there at that level and you can see that from a 25-minute stint the other night

It is just about giving him the exposure to the physicality and the constant speed of it. We are going to expect that he will make some errors at different times – but that is what becoming a first grader is about, you learn from those errors as well.

MC: How does the squad dynamic work when young players burst through and challenge for the places of the blokes they are still looking up to and learning from?

KW: That is the evolution of a football player and you make yourself redundant at some stage. We all do that.

Blokes like Jonny Lomax, Theo Fages, Lachlan Coote and James Roby are terrific with the way they help the younger blokes and understand the strength of our club and squad is that they help those young blokes develop to become better players.

At some stage those guys will move on and a player like Lewis Dodd comes in and becomes our five eighth or half back.

But while blokes are doing their job and playing well they have nothing to worry about.

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MC: You must be pleased to finally make the Joel Thompson announcement. This has been a tough time to do business given the impact of Covid and its hardship?

KW: The reason we haven’t done anything for so long is that we have all taken pay cuts as a squad and as a staff. We have had to figure out what sort of position the club is going to be in financially going forward.

There is going to be decreases in some things next year, there is no doubt about that.

The club has come to a position where it knows what it is going to look like next year.

All that stuff in terms of recruitment and even retention has been put on the backburner until now.

Now we do have a better picture we can start moving forward with a bit of recruitment and retention.

The retention has been our number one priority and we have moved pretty well over the last couple of weeks there and there will be things we willable to announce in the next couple of weeks.

The club is built on the academy and juniors that we bring through. We want to make sure that we look after those first and make sure we keep that really strong culture that we have got through those players.

But Joel is a step we have made in recruitment.

St Helens Star:

MC: The Leeds game is the start of three in eight, do the plans you have in place kick in from this game?

KW: We have a bit of a plan but our first thing to worry about is playing Leeds.

We know it is a big game, we will prepare the best we can for that and once we knock that one over then we will have a look how we are health wise.

Some blokes will back up, other may not. We can’t have a final decision on that until we get through Friday’s game.

We want to make sure we put out the team that has the best chance of winning out every week, that means we have to see who is healthy.

MC: In the past, particularly during the similarly congested Easter period, Saints have turned to cryotherapy and brought the chamber out. Is stuff like that out of the question with Covid?

KW: We are pretty limited with what we can with Covid and introducing people and other things into our bubble is something we can’t do.

We are a bit limited there but we will try and make sure we do the best we can with what we have got.