SAINTS loose forward Morgan Knowles is relishing Friday night’s home Super 8s game against Wigan as the team look to secure their first piece of silverware since 2014.

A crucial try scorer in the narrow win last time out in mid July, Knowles knows just what to expect from the game’s most keenly fought of derbies.

But with finish line now just six weeks away. that focus and intensity suddenly becomes sharper.

Knowles said: “The derbies against Wigan are always intense and physical.

“And there is a big start but usually it is the team that settles down quickest that gets back to doing their job.

“These are the games you want to be part of.

"I am not sure whether he will play – but Sean O’Loughlin is a veteran, who has played for years, and is still one of the best in the game.

"He is in the same position as myself and it is great to lock horns with players like that.”

Knowles has only scored nine tries in his Saints career so far, but one third of those touchdowns have been against the Cherry and Whites.

It is a run he is hoping to maintain on Friday.

“I don’t score too many but I seem to get over against Wigan.

“Another one on Friday would do for me.

"Wigan have a good depth of squad – as have we. They have good young kids they bring and are skilful and physical.

It has been another impressive season from the 21-year-old Welsh international, who bounced into the year after a big effort in the World Cup.

Working the number 13 role in tandem with the vastly experienced former skipper Jon Wilkin, Knowles has built on last year - a season in which he was shortlisted for Super League’s young player of the year award.

“The year has gone really well – from all the players and staff – we have been relatively injury free and kept a healthy squad.

“It has been a pleasure to be a part of.

“But so far we haven’t done anything – so starting Friday it is now the games that count.

“Nobody remembers the start of the year – it is always the big games at the end of the year that matter,” he said.

Although currently operating in the second row berth vacated by injured Dom Peyroux, Knowles has secured his niche in the team as a big tackling, ball playing loose forward.

And his natural skillset fits coach Justin Holbrook’s views on that position.

“I have loved the position I have been in this year, learning off Wilko and trying to gain as much knowledge as I can off him.

“It has been a pleasure and I am sponging as much as I can off him before he moves on,” Knowles said.

"Having a bit of versatility helps, too.

"I debuted at nine and then played in the back row.

"I prefer to lock myself down in that loose forward position but wherever the gaffer wants me to play I will do a job.

"The loose forward job is a little bit like a extra half, directing the middles around, which is my preferred position as a ball playing loose.

" I am happy to be at the club where Justin wants the loos to be like that – and that is perfect for me."

Although Saints are flying at the top of the table, the Challenge Cup semi final knockout and the home defeat by Huddersfield did give them a jolt.

But Knowles said there was no panic within the camp, despite the disappointment.

He said: "I don’t think the boys lost confidence.

"We sit where we do for a reason.

"We did have a poor performance in the Challenge Cup – and then physically we struggled to get up for the game after.

"We just needed to get back to doing our job individually and working hard for each other.

"It is a big game Friday – but we have already sealed a home semi-final.

"We have got that semi to aim for, build some good performances, seal the league leaders and the big games are to come."

Having gone so well in the league, it would be a travesty if Saints were to not make the Grand Final.

But there will be no second chances - and Saints have time to get their heads on the semi-final and learn from past experiences.

Knowles said: "The experience of last year is invaluable.

"The result at Castleford last year was really hard to take, and still hurts now.

"We can use that to drive ourselves on so when we are in those close games and semi-finals. We can use that to try get the result."