JUSTIN Holbrook reflected on matters arising from Saints’ win in Perpignan with the St Helens Star’s Mike Critchley.

MC: The team was physically under the cosh for large parts of that game, but they found a way to pull that off.

JH: I think it was the best win of our season. To get up at 6.30am fly over there and play in a very hostile place to play. Not a lot of things go your way, so to get that win was satisfying.

MC: How they shape up after what was a very bruising physical game?

JH: We trained well today (Tuesday) and I thought they would be more sore.

We handled the physicality really well - with a good mix of Jonny Lomax, Jon Wilkin and even Luke Thompson and Morgan Knowles as our senior players and throw in youngsters Aaron Smith, Jack Ashworth and Matty Lees.

You think of Morgan Knowles as a senior player, but he is only 21. For him to play so long at 9 and defend so well. Then to score that match-winning try - you forget he is still only 21.

Matt Costello did a good job in the centres too. They did a good job but they had to.

It was a good team performance - we did not play our best but we kept hanging in there. And came away with the win.

MC: What is going through your head as a coach when Catalans have the team pinned inside their own 30m and physically cannot get out?

JH: The good thing was that we learned from the Challenge Cup semi.

You have just got to hang in there in those times. There is no easy way out when you are pinned in your half.

The reason you are pinned in is because they are a big strong side. So if you do hang in there you are going to expose them.

Theo did it late in the first half, when he whipped through about six of them to go through untouched. It is a matter of wearing them out.

It was pleasing that we did not panic in that situation.

A lot of guys had to take some hits - we got hit hard but weathered that storm, Jonny and Theo took about three hits each. In the Challenge Cup semi we would have forced that but we just took our medicine and came out the other end.

Both halves went the same way - first 20 we were behind and fought our way back and likewise in the second half.

I am really pleased with the character that the team showed to come away with the win.

MC: The nurturing of Aaron Smith paid off with a fine debut.

JH: I was so happy for Aaron Smith. He is a great young player and a quiet young kid.

The journey he has been on this year to get a game ­— whether it is going up to League 1 at York, then Hull KR have picked him up for a few games and then Featherstone for a few matches.

For us to finally reward him at his home club is well-deserved.

Late hits aside, the big boys were running at him and he had no issue with that. He played tremendous too and cracked on despite a shoulder and sternum injury too. It is a credit to him.

MC: The number of youngsters out there is a testament to the club's academy system.

JH: There is a great Academy here, headed up by Derek Traynor and the rest of his staff. Bringing good quality players through is the pathway that you want. If you can promote from within, that is the best scenario.

We had about nine out there which is fantastic.

MC: You told me a few weeks ago that James Roby has plenty of years left in him, but it is good to see a possible protege coming through who can handle this role?

JH: He is a great player Aaron and played in the first friendly this year against Sheffield and was really good.

To go on the journey he has been on - as a coach is very rewarding.

MC: What is the damage with James Roby and Ben Barba?

JH: Robes is struggling with his shoulder. We don’t want to play him until he is right. But we are in a position now where we don’t have to.

I have always said that if blokes are right I will play them, because I am not a fan of resting players for no reason – they want to play, let’s play.

But if people have niggling injuries, we have put ourselves in a position where we can make sure we get them right before the home semi. We did that last week in France.

Benny was pulled out after captain’s run. He was all set to play. He had a bit of a niggle with his knee so did not play.

If Benny gets through this week then he will play, but Robes is unlikely. He will probably be next week

We have a few doubts. Zeb Taia has a sore hip and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook has an ankle problem. If they recover they will play; if not, they won’t.”

MC: Are you concerned at all about the amount of messing about at the rucks, slow play the balls?

JH: We can't do anything about that. We are going to keep playing the way we are and opposition teams are not going to want us to play because of how much strike we have in the team. It is up to the officials whether they want to allow that to happen.

It is not up to us to worry about that, we did a good job at playing smarter at the weekend.

Jonny was mentioned earlier, but we also got Percy a lot more ball.

We are starting to get back to playing to our strike players more often.

That is the key for us and all that other stuff will sort itself out over 80 minutes.

MC: Hull looked like they had found a little bit of a response after the mullering at Warrington the previous week. They are playing for pride, but still not a team to take lightly.

JH: Hull still have some great players but their three best players have been out through the Super 8s.

You just can’t replace players like that, particularly in the halves.

They are in a bit of a hole, but they still have some dangerous outside backs. It is us to us to worry about how we want to play.

We haven’t played well the last couple of home games and it has been disappointing.