SAINTS coach Kristian Woolf talked about Curtis Sironen’s performances, Jonny Lomax’s ultra-professionalism, his pride in Saints’ defence and gave credit to the officials when the Star’s Mike Critchley caught up with him.

MC: It is a blow in losing Sione Mata’utia for 5-6 weeks, but you have good cover there in Curtis Sironen?

KW: I have been really happy with how Curtis Sironen has come along – despite getting himself suspended for a week earlier this month.

Every game he has got a little bit better, starting with Catalans and I thought he was really good against Hull FC and better again against Wakefield and he was really good against Warrington.

St Helens Star:

He gets the opportunity now to play some more minutes and have a bit more impact on the game and he is only going to get better with that time and impact as well.

He is very good with the ball, he is athletic and smart and skilful – although he has not had that opportunity to show that yet skill wise.

But because he moves well, he defends well and has a real intent about his defence.

St Helens Star:

MC: You mention players with bumps and bangs, is Jonny Lomax OK?

KW: Because of the way he plays, he plays at the line, he cops a lot of attention from the opposition both in terms of defence but also with the opposition running at him.

He has been little bit sore the last couple of weeks, but he’s probably the most professional bloke I have ever seen with the way he looks after himself after games and before games he tends to find a way to make sure he is right to go again for the next one.

St Helens Star:

MC: How prepared are you for multiple changes?

KW: Through the pre-season we make sure people get opportunities in different positions and get to build combinations with different players around them.

We are going to have a few changes and are going to look a bit different, but I am confident in blokes who will come in and fill those roles.

They are not necessarily going to replace players – good players are hard to replace – but players get their opportunity to be themselves and bring their own strengths and that can make us just as strong a team by coming in doing that.

MC: Any sign of Regan Grace this week?

KW: He won’t play this week but he will have a real chance next week and if he is not quite 100 per cent then we will leave for another week or two after that. It is a long season, early in the season, with a lot of footy to be played so we are not going to take a risk with a guy like Regan.

MC: Will Konrad Hurrell come back in after his suspension?

KW: Koni will most likely be in the side somewhere we have a couple of things like that that we need to sort out and finalise.

MC: St Helens used to be noted for you score 20, we’ll score 30 – but there seems to be a real appetite now for cheering the defence. Is that something you are particularly proud of?

KW: I am extremely proud of our teamwork in defence. To be a good defensive side you have to have a really good work ethic and a real toughness about you and that is what I see in our blokes.

I get real pride from how much pride the players themselves show in defence and how hard they want to work at that.

They are doing that on a really consistent basis. It is the toughest side of the game so it is a real show of the character of the team and the fans enjoy that as well.


What we are really doing well at the moment is getting the right balance, defensively making it hard to score against, but playing some good football with the ball.

There are times where individuals don’t get everything right and that is where the desire, scramble and real genuine pride to save tries comes into play.

Warrington threw every trick they had at us on Friday, whether that was an early kick, a run on fifth play or a shift-to-shift, but the way our blokes turned up and defended well and then scrambled well under pressure was outstanding.

MC: There were some eyebrows raised in some quarters at the Warrington sin-binning for offside. What did you think?

KW: It was exactly the right call. If you look at the pictures when those penalties were given, in all four cases Warrington were offside and never attempted to make it to be onside either.

If that is going to happen, where there are constant penalties given for the same thing – then the only way the refs can get a result is to take it further with sin-bins.

After the game I said I thought Chris Kendall did a really good job and got all of his calls right, and since the game I have gone through all the penalties given for and against us and I would say the same thing.

St Helens Star:

MC: What are your thoughts on the disciplinary clampdown?

KW: The RFL and the match review committee made a real effort before the start of the season started to make it clear how the game was going to be refereed and how things were going to be charged by the match review committee, in particular around late hits and striking.

When they have made such an effort to make it clear I don’t think it really gives us anything to complain about when they go through with that and they have been really consistent with that as well.

I am not saying I absolutely agree 100 per cent, and there are a couple of things there that could be tinkered with, but I do believe very strongly that we have a game that needs to be protected.

If we don’t make changes where we protect players then we are not protecting the game.

Their communication with how they are going to go about it has very good in this instance and they deserve credit there. We don’t have too much to complain about.

St Helens Star:

MC: What do make of Whitehaven in the Challenge Cup draw?

KW: It is something we can really look forward to after Toulouse. It is going to be a really good crowd and a lot of interest in the event in the town.

It all points to a really good occasion with a good atmosphere and we know that Whitehaven is going to turn up to really have a go as well. It is something we can really look forward to.