SAINTS coach Kristian Woolf answered this week’s questions from the Star’s Mike Critchley.

MC: Saints will miss Tommy Makinson, but the team is still blessed in the three-quarters.

KW: We are and Jack has done such a great job for us and can slot it there. Mark Percival and Kevin Naiqama are both really flexible in where they play and which side they play on as well.

We have done it before and will be able to do it again and that transition will be fairly seamless as they are all good players.

St Helens Star:

There is a positive there, but we will miss Tommy because he is a terrific player.

Nobody starts the sets better or finishes better than Tommy – his all-round game is going to be missed. We’d love to have him out there but at the moment we are well covered.

St Helens Star:

MC: Are you pleased with the way Mark Percival’s body is now holding up after that return from injury?

KW: We have to remember that was Mark’s first 80 minute game (against Huddersfield) and we have done a really good job in just tapering him in to playing and giving him a little bit more every week. That has put us in a position now where we can play him full games every week and take away that little bit of a thought that there is a risk attached to it.

He has been outstanding., He has come back in and been one of our best players. He only played two-and-a-half games last year and is showing how classier a player he is by coming in and having that impact.

The other positive is he is only going to get better with the more footy he plays this year.

MC: How tough do you expect it to be for Morgan Knowles to come back in to such a demanding role as a 13?

KW: I have no concerns with Morgan and his fitness, physicality and how he will play in his first game.

Morgan is a special player in that sense – there re not too many who work harder and play with the same sort of intensity and toughness that he brings.

Although he has not been able to do all of the training over the pre-season and the start of the season, it is his thumb that he has had the surgery on so he has been able to do all the running.

In terms of the intensity he can play at and the length of minutes he will have no dramas whatsoever. Because he is a bloke who is impeccable how he looks after himself, physically he will be ready to go as well.

We could have pushed to play him last week, but we made a smart decision not to because he had not done enough contact work and that would put too much pressure on him and put him in a bit of a risk.

We are confident that won’t be the case with an extra 10 day turnaround.

MC: You mention his physicality, and what he does in defence – but he has a nice passing game on him too. How much has his input been missed from the attack?

KW: He is very good at the role he plays there. He is a genuine ball player and very smart and skilful in the way he does it. He is a big part of our attack.

We started the year with Sione playing there and he has a similar skill set but he is more equipped to playing on the edge with his attributes, speed footwork and his toughness.

It is great that we have him coming back in as it will add a bit to our overall game and certainly to our attack as well.

MC: The natural loose forward role is perfect for Morgan Knowles. A while back it looked like the position was going to turn into simply another big ball carrier. Are you pleased to that the natural 13 role is back?

KW: I am actually. The six again rule is positive and it allows smaller forwards to find their way back into teams and play a part there. It is beneficial again to be quite quick around the middle and to be able to play long minutes and have a little bit of skill about you.

It tends to lean towards a loose forward type player, rather than three front rowers. That is a real positive – and there are not too many better than Morgan Knowles in my opinion.

St Helens Star:

MC: With a few absences Joe Batchelor has stepped in – how do you think he has gone?

KW: He has done a good job in the games he has played. He would like to be a bit more regular and he is going to get an opportunity to do that.

What I like about Joe is his terrific training ethic and he a really good fella around the group.

He trains and plays at a terrific intensity. He showed that against Huddersfield – other players offer different things but he offers hard work and does a lot of cleaning up for other players.

He will get some opportunities the next few weeks and would expect him to improve and grow as a result.

MC: This is a big week for the town with fans coming back, how is that getting through to the players?

KW: It is exciting for us as well and we can’t wait for it. We have missed it even if we have got used to rolling out and there being no crowds. We have created our own atmosphere and the players have done a terrific job at that, not just here but at other clubs, with the intensity they have played at.

At the end of the day, players love playing in front of fans and they love the roar of the crowd when things go well and extra dimension of pressure that is added to the game.

All our blokes can’t wait for it to happen.

St Helens Star:

It is the whole package of what fans bring; when team is struggling and the home fans are singing songs that can really help you find the extra five per cent that is needed.

At the same time it can add pressure to the opposition when you are on top.

There’s lot of reason why we miss them and want them back. Being able to celebrate with he fans at the end of the game and thank them for coming and the fans showing their appreciation to the players is something they look forward to.

St Helens Star:

MC: This will have been the first time that some of these players have played without their families being there. Has that been difficult?

KW: Rugby league is a tough sport in so many ways, on and off the field. After you have played – win lose or draw – then there’s nothing you want more than to share that with your families.

I am sure the players have missed that aspect. They have just got on with it, but I am sure they are looking forward to sharing those moments with the family again.

St Helens Star:

MC: What are your thoughts on Salford?

KW: They are a good side, good enough to threaten teams and win games. I have no doubt.

they will take confidence from the performance against Castleford in the cup. They will be tough to beat.

MC: They have two crafty, experienced halves in Kevin Brown and Tui Lolohea.

KW: Tui is a terrific little player and was their best last weekend. His kicking game is exceptional and he is a real competitor. Kev Brown complements him really well.

We have seen plenty of times how crafty they can be, and they are a big focal point for their team.

MC: Any thoughts on the Challenge Cup draw?

KW: Hull are playing really and that is something our blokes will be really excited about in a couple weeks. But we have three tough games of footy before we get to that one. But it is something our blokes will really look forward to.

We wouldn’t expect anything less than a really tough game against one of the best in the comp – and that is exactly what we got and what our players want.