JUSTIN Holbrook gave his thoughts to the Star’s Mike Critchley after another eventful week at Saints.

MC: Was Cas the sort of game needed after Wembley?

JH: I think so; you never want those sorts of games as you always want to be winning comfortably. But the character that we showed was probably what we lacked the week before in the Challenge Cup final – hanging in there during tough periods.

To do that the next week was huge for us and a sign of things to come this next few weeks.

St Helens Star:

MC: It was a different response to last year’s cup loss?

JH: Last year we flew out of the blocks and tried to maintain it and after getting beat in the cup semi we struggled for the remainder of the year.

But now we are building towards the finals in a much better position and getting some key guys some match fitness like Robes, Al, Cootey and Morgan Knowles.

They get a few more games under their belts and we are going to be in the finals series flying this year. I feel we are in a much better place as a club and as a team

MC: We praised the defence but what was behind the number of handling errors?

JH: A lot of that was down to the mental fatigue from the week before and it was another fast-paced game with only one try scored so there was a lot of physical demands on the players as well, apart from the mental scars from Wembley.

Moving forward that is an issue that we are going to have to rectify the next few weeks, that is for sure. But I don’t want to make a big deal of it.

What we went through against a side desperate to make the play offs and a good attacking side to keep working hard and keep them scoreless was a huge effort from the players.

St Helens Star:

MC: There is always criticism when non-British born players get selected, but what is your take on Coote in the GB squad?

JH: Wayne Bennett has said all along that he would pick his best side from players eligible – and that is a fair assumption. If I am honest I have mixed thoughts and think it should be direct parents being born in a place rather than grandparents.

I think that is one generation too far away for me, but the rules are there. If they are all eligible then he wants to pick the best side and I am ok with that.

For those born and bred here they have to play even better to fight for the jersey.

But I am not looking at changing them – just pick the best side and we are lucky enough to have Cootey and Morgan Knowles joining our six English boys.

Regan Grace is a bit unlucky – but there are a lot of great wingers there.

On the flip side – Regan is only a young guy and played a lot of rugby this season so it won’t hurt him.

It is a great turnout from us as a Saints club.

St Helens Star:

MC: Selectors said Matty Lees would have joined them had he been fit.

JH: That is a huge compliment and deservedly so for Matty. We missed him massively at Wembley

Hopefully this plays a part in lifting his spirits – and him looking forward for next year.

MC: Is there any update on Matty?

JH: He has only just come out of hospital so the next week or two is simply about how to stomach the food and getting the insides working properly again before we can think about what the next stage is.

It is still a pretty serious time for him – with those basic things in life like being able to digest food and get it out of your system.

MC: Does this type of injury bring home the physical cost of playing the game?

JH: Steve Price and I were talking about this the other week. It is the most brutal sport you can play, especially when you have do it every week. We will earn a week off on a couple of weeks but by that time we will have played 33 weeks straight in the most brutal sport you can play.

It is a huge ask for the players and full credit to them.

St Helens Star:

MC: The fans grew increasingly loud on Friday - that was pleasing to hear?

JH: When defending our line the crowd the crowd really got behind us. It was important for the players.

We were all disappointed the week before at Wembley. For the crowd to get behind them really lifted them and played a massive part in helping the boys.

MC: In terms of selection for Huddersfield, do all those missing come back?

JH: Theo, Cootey, Dom and Kev all return. On reflection - Cas was a another big win with four key guys missing.

St Helens Star:

MC: Looking ahead to Huddersfield, what have you made of them recently?

JH: They have not played well of late but to go to Hull and win was tremendous for them.

They are in the danger relegation zone but showed what they are capable of because they are a very good side.

They have not going this year – but got it right last week. We have to make sure we nullify that this week.

MC: Fast forward to the play-offs, does that first bite semi take some pressure off, compared to last year's sudden death system?

JH: Definitely – it is a fairer system, although I still don’t think it is the best as you can go week off, win, week off, play the final. You go from no weeks off all year to having two weeks off in four.

It is still better than last year’s 1 v 4 where the team sneak in and come to the semi with a free hit for Old Trafford.

It is a much better system.

St Helens Star:

MC: Obviously the build up to October 12 is huge, but how does it all fit in with any preparations you may have to make for you and your family leaving at the end of the season?

JH: People have asked me if I am looking forward to going home.

And I have said no, not yet, because this is the most exciting part of the year. That is what I am focused on. We have a clear focus because we have worked so hard all year – there are some really big games ahead.

The only changes we will be making as a family will be after the season and that is the way I want it to be, I want them to be here for the exciting part of the year too.

My wife and kids have been a big part in supporting me here and I want them to be around for this part. We are not trying to get out in a hurry, that is for sure.

The only reason we are going is because I have always wanted to be an NRL coach.

I have loved every minute about being here and want that to continue for the next six weeks. We have done all the hard yards.