Morgan Knowles gives ‘big boost’ to St Helens for Super League Grand Final

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

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St Helens manager Kristian Woolf has said he intends to play with and without Morgan Knowles but admits the England striker’s availability is a major boost ahead of the Super grand final Saturday’s League against Leeds.

Knowles received a two-game penalty notice for a dangerous tackle on Chris Atkin in last weekend’s semi-final win over Salford, which was upheld on appeal on Tuesday night, ruling him out of the showpiece ‘Old Trafford.

But 24 hours later the ban was overturned by a separate court, which found Knowles guilty of professional misconduct but allowed him to make dangerous contact, agreeing with St Helens chief executive Mike Rush, that Atkin’s arm was “not forced beyond the limit of the normal range of motion”.

“It’s a big boost for us, which we’re really happy with,” Woolf said during Thursday’s Grand Final press conference at Old Trafford.

“He’s been a very important player for us all year. He’s one of the best players in the competition and he’s one of the best players in his position in the world.

The Knowles saga has dominated the run-up to the 25th Grand Final, but Woolf insists it hasn’t been a distraction for his side as they seek an unprecedented fourth straight win.

“It wasn’t a distraction,” he said.

“We prepared two ways, one with Morgan and one without him. I think it’s a fair process and I think it was handled well.

Leeds are seething privately over the Knowles case, particularly after Rhyse Martin’s recent one-game ban for a high tackle was doubled after their appeal was ruled frivolous, but manager Rohan Smith has done his part. best to be diplomatic.

Leeds beat Wigan in the semi-finals (Nigel French/PA)

(PA wire)

“Nothing would be surprising when it comes to this process,” Smith said.

“From Tuesday to Wednesday, it has been shown that a different group of people can find a different response to the same tackle. Everyone has seen it, I prefer not to comment too much on the whole process.

“We planned as if he was going to play. It’s probably good for the game, good for the World Cup.

Smith is able to call Martin back after his ban ended, but declined to say whether he would play center or second as he prepares to reshuffle his squad following the loss of scrum-half Aidan Sezer with a Headbutt suffered in the Rhinos. ‘ semi-final victory against Wigan.

“It’s great to have Rhyse back,” Smith said. “He’s been a big part of us this season.

“We have a lot of options. We’ve had to use different players in different positions due to injuries and suspensions, we’re pretty adaptable.

Smith confirmed winger Ash Handley also has a chance to return after missing recent games with a foot injury.

“It’s going to be 50-50 at this point,” he said.

“He has a lot of training. He hasn’t had a big session yet but he seems pretty close. We have to make a decision tomorrow.

St Helens are likely to have center or full-back Will Hopoate back after missing the last four games with hamstring issues and Woolf says prop Dan Norman is in contention after suffering a broken hamstring cheekbone in the last game of the regular season.

Saturday’s game will be Woolf’s last in the Super League as he prepares to bring his family back to Australia, but he says it’s the last thing on his mind.

He has been a very important player for us all year. He’s one of the best players in the competition and he’s one of the best players in his position in the world.

Kristian Woolf on Morgan Knowles

“I’m very focused on the game,” he said.

“I haven’t thought about what will happen next. It’s been a busy week, there hasn’t been much time for reflection.

Woolf, who took over from Justin Holbrook three years ago, is aiming for a hat-trick of Grand Final triumphs and captain James Roby believes winning four in a row would make the current St Helens side the best ever .

“We realize this has never been done before, so we know what’s at stake,” Roby said.

“We know how special it would be. It’s hard to compare teams from different eras, but there’s no denying that if you win on Saturday, it’s got to be up there.

Organizers expect a crowd of over 60,000 people.

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Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at

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