SAINTS coach Kristian Woolf gave his take on take on Challenge Cup opponents Huddersfield Giants, Morgan Knowles’ fitness, head knocks and Agnatius Paasi’s offload game when the Star’s Mike Critchley caught up with him.

(The questions were put the day before Saints named their 21-man squad for Friday).

MC: After a run of losses, do you expect Huddersfield to benefit from winning that last game against Leeds?

KW: It will give them some confidence. When you have lost a string of games all you want is a win to take a little bit of the pressure off and build some confidence in knowing you can win a game.

They will get that from the weekend.

At the end of the day, it is what we turn up with this weekend and what Huddersfield turn up with – and what I have grown to learn over here with the Challenge Cup is that it is playing finals footy.

With knockout footy and everyone fights a little bit more and we know that Huddersfield will and we will do the same.

It is do or die and we are both going to play that way.

MC: Was Joe Batchelor OK after his head knock?

KW: He passed all of his tests, but while he was off was when James Bentley went down. He was completely cleared, there was no concussion, it was just that the docs were not available due to James going down and that is why we couldn’t get him back on the field.

St Helens Star:

MC: We seem to be seeing one head knock a week now, it that extra precaution or is there something contributing to it in the game?

KW: I am not sure of the reasons but it has become more prevalent. I have no data – but it does appear to be happening more. That could be because we treat them better than we did in the past.

We are certainly more conscious of it and the after effects as players, staff and medical staff and are a lot more cautious with how we handle concussion now.

When you put that together there are possibly more and we treat them a little bit better and bring players off and recognising it better.

If there are more, that could be due to more fatigue in the game and the constant physicality in the game. It is something we need to monitor and I am sure we are.

But we obviously need to do more research into it and its effects.

It is something the game needs to be smart with going forward, particularly with short turnarounds and numbers of games played.

READ: Stepping up for James Bentley>

One thing that can’t be disputed is player fatigue contributes to player injuries and that is the same with head knocks as well.

St Helens Star:

MC: With James Bentley out, will that alter Morgan Knowles’ timeframe for playing – or will he be ready to play when you are happy with his fitness?

KW: We have to be smart and make the right decision for Morgan. If we were to make a rushed or panicked decision, then we could find ourselves in a worse spot because we would lose another valuable player for another extended period – and that is not what we are going to do.

Morgan will play when he is fit and healthy.

Once he is cleared and we have put the work into him – in terms of skillset, contact work and running work we will have made sure that when Morgan takes the field we have given him the best chance to play at his best and of finishing the season without any more little niggles or anything like that.

St Helens Star:

MC: Agnatius Paasi’s offload game is adding a bit of something to play?

KW: I said when he first joined he is a very good player who is going to offer us a lot in different ways.

He has great footwork and he moves so well for such a big man. He is courageous – the way he runs into the line and the way he wants to have an impact on the runners when they are coming his way as well. He is a really courageous player and that is what we love about him.

His skillset includes that offload, the pre-line pass and plenty that he has not shown here yet but the more he plays with our players, the more comfortable he will get in terms of his role in Super League then the more we are going to see from him.

St Helens Star:

It is unfortunate that in the last few weeks he has been getting on to the field when we have been a little ill-disciplined and that has meant us doing a lot of defending. If we get him out there where he gets a bit more of an even split, then we will start to see a bit more of his attacking ability as well.

One thing I like about him is that he is known for his attacking ability, but he has gone out there and worked hard and wanting to be desperate and do all the things we talk about defensively as well.

I am really happy with what he is doing.