SAINTS boss Justin Holbrook gave his thoughts to the Star’s Mike Critchley ahead of Friday’s huge semi-final clash with Wigan.

MC: 3-0 whitewash in the regular season – but what does that mean ahead of this semi?

JH: It is obviously good because we know Saints v Wigan games are the most important games in the competition, so that is a great thing when you think how much the game means to the two towns.

The fact that we have beaten them three times is still important – but come Friday night that statistic is not important, if that makes sense.

We finished 16 clear of them on the table, but we are going to be starting at 0-0 on Friday.

So while it is a great feeling of being 3-0, we have got to do it this Friday.

MC: In conversations this year you have never really written Wigan off, despite their shaky performances at times?

JH: I thought they would finish third and that Warrington would keep going and finish second.

But with Warrington falling away I am not surprised Wigan finished second because they are a very good rugby league side and we have seen that at the back half of the year.

MC: What is it Saints need to have in their locker to win these tight play-off games, something Wigan seem to have a way bringing this part of the season?

JH: We obviously haven’t done it of late – so I can’t say I have got all of the answers, all I can say from our point of view is we have lost those big games in all different manners, it has not just been the one.

People have been saying we have been choking – but maybe the Catalans semi, I will cop that, but all the others have been completely different games.

As for Wigan, they have had some great players but two of their best players at being to handle that – Bateman and Tomkins – two big influences in the past are not here this year.

For us, we have played well all year and if we do that on the night we will win, if not we will get beat it is that simple really.

Wigan are not doing anything better than us, but we have to play well on Friday.

MC: There has been a lot of talk about Wigan’s young pack, is this a good test for your forwards?

JH: It is – we know how good Wigan’s youth is – they have won 10 out of 12 Academy Grand Finals. They have great young players every year and they have brought them in of late and have done a really good job for them but our pack of forwards are absolute quality as well. It is going to be a great game on Friday.

MC: People put question marks over the team after Wembley, but how important is it that the Cootes, Walmsleys, Knowles and Robys – key players of this team - are match fit?

JH: As important as you can get. To go in the Cup final with those boys only playing one game in five weeks was not ideal, but we could not do anything about it and we fell short.

Those guys have all played the next three Super League games and have got match fitness under their belts, and the other guys have had a freshen up.

MC: Do you expect a Saints v Wigan at Old Trafford?

JH: I am not looking into that, this Friday is our focus. We have to play well enough – and the fastest route to Old Trafford is to win on Friday. That is what we are planning on.

MC: It does not seem five minutes since the season launch - time flies when you're having fun?

JH: It goes so fast, it has been hard work this year but it's been an absolute pleasure.

It does not seem that long ago that we were here in round one and shovelling off the snow to get the game on against Wigan. If we can get the same result as we did in round one then I will be really happy.

I hope it is my last game here on Friday because that will mean that we have won and we are through to Old Trafford – that is the main thing.

MC: You will have a couple of players saying farewell - assess what Luke Douglas and Adam Swift have contributed here?

JH: They are terrific clubmen aren’t they, for different reasons.

Duggy has come over and given three great years to the club and it has not been ideal for him this year playing at Leigh, but how professional he has been for the boys and how he is at training and supporting the playing group – it has been fantastic.

It is not the way he’d have liked to finished his career but he went to the Championship and never dropped his standards in training here or the way he played at Leigh.

Swifty is such a popular guy and a great player to have around.

He has had a lot of setbacks with his injuries – and getting going again disappointing year in that regard, but he is a Super League player every week and I wish him all the best for his future.