WELSH international Morgan Knowles was glad to get back into the action on Sunday at Hull for his first start since undergoing close-season surgery on both shoulders.

With that under his belt, the 23-year-old loose forward is now raring to go for Saturday’s massive World Club Challenge clash at home to the Sydney Roosters.

It will be the second time Knowles will have come face-to-face with the Roosters, having remarkably played them in only his third game as a Saint when still a teenager.

There are so many motivations for Knowles – and the rest of the team – as they aim to take the world crown for the club for a third time.

The big-hitting Barrovian said: “The World Club Challenge is a great concept – one of those games you want to be part of as a younger player.

“It is really exciting for all the boys, the club and the fans – something we are all looking forward.

“As a player you want to test yourself against the best – I certainly do.

“The rivalry between England and Australia it is always good to get stuck into some Aussies.”

Roosters have beaten Saints twice before in the World Club Challenge – the first ever one in Sydney back in 1976 and the 38-0 massacre at Bolton in 2003.

And Knowles played in a third defeat at the hands of the Sydney outfit– the World Series game in 2016 in which he came off the bench having only broken into the first team the week before.

“That World series games – that was really only my second game – I had made my Super League debut the week before and then there I was playing the Roosters.

“It was obviously a much different team to the one we will be playing this time around, as it was a few years ago.

“On the other side we, too, are a different side altogether from that.

“But I have had a little taste of what it is all about,” Knowles said.

Sydney Roosters have an unblemished record in this challenge, beating both Saints and Wigan on two occasions each.

They comprehensively defeated Wigan 20-8 at the DW Stadium last year and so come to St Helens as current holders.

And once again Trent Robinson is taking it seriously, taking the team to his former Super League club Catalans to put the finishing touches to their preparation.

They will arrive in town fit and primed – and Saints know that – and prefer that rather than have it devalue the contest.

“You want the Aussie champions to take this competition seriously.

“You don’t want to hear excuses going around saying they were only treating it as a warm-up game for them starting their season.

“You want them fully firing and we all know it will be a very tough challenge for us.

“They won it last year and have got quality right across the board, but so have we.

“We are ready to go and fully firing for it,” he said.

The past decade saw the Australian premiers really take control of the World Club Challenge having been subject to veiled criticism at times that they were not giving it their 100 per cent focus.

Whether there was any truth in that or not, there has been a marked stepping up from teams Down Under with the trophy being won by NRL outfits for eight out of the last 10 occasion.

With that in mind Knowles believes that Saints are not only playing for themselves and the town on Saturday, but are also the flag-bearers for the Super League competition and the British game as a whole.

He is hoping the fans over here will put aside some of their intense rivalry and get behind the Super League champions for this one.

“It is always important when we are competing against them from over there,” he said.

“We are doing it for St Helens, but I’d like to think the other clubs players and fans across Super League will behind us.

“We are effectively flying the flag for Great Britain and putting our mark down that the British game and Super League is not a second tier competition.

“Beating them would be a good way to make the Australians take note that there are some good teams over here.”

Saints bounced through last season, winning a second consecutive League Leaders Shield and crowing the year at Old Trafford with a Grand Final victory.

The only blemish on an otherwise perfect 2019 was that defeat at Wembley in which Knowles controversially had what would have been the crucial first try chalked off.

But there have been changes and coach Justin Holbrook has moved on, with Kristian Woolf in as head coach and already stamping his particular mark on the team.

With a start that reads two wins and one loss from Super League so far, Knowles believes the World Club has not simply given them an early focus – but success on Saturday could be a massive springboard into the rest of 2020 when the challenges will come thick and fast.

“The squad comes in at the early part of the year and we look at this game.

“If we can get a win and a collect a trophy in the early part of the season then everyone is sort of relaxed and settled down then,” the backrower said.

“It would help play better rugby as we know we’ll have already got something from the year and would be a boost, a catalyst to kick us on for the remaining part of the season.

“Saturday is massive.

“If we get that place sold out and the ground pumping it will add to a brilliant occasion,” he said.