It’s a big boost for us – Kristian Woolf & Rohan Smith react to Knowles’ appeal

Casualty Ward Kristian Woolf Rohan Smith

St Helens boss Kristian Woolf says the availability of loose forward Morgan Knowles is a major boost for his side ahead of the Super League Grand Final.

The 25-year-old England international won his second appeal against his two-match ban. It means he is free to play in Saturday’s Grand Final at Old Trafford.

Knowles has been included in St Helens’ 21-man squad, while Woolf has also welcomed back Will Hopoate from injury.

Kristian Woolf: ‘He’s been a really important player for us all year’ 

“It’s a big boost for us, one we’re really happy with,” Woolf said.

“He’s been a really 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 story has been a major talking point in the build up to Saturday’s clash for the Super League title. However, Woolf has insisted his side remain focused on the job ahead.

“It’s not been a distraction,” Woolf added.

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

Rohan Smith reacts

Leeds head coach Rohan Smith says he wasn’t surprised when he heard that Knowles had won his second appeal. It comes just weeks after Rhyse Martin failed his own appeal and saw his ban extended from one game to two.

“Nothing would surprise as far as that process goes,” Smith said.

“From Tuesday to Wednesday it was shown that a different group of people can find a different answer to the same tackle. Everyone has seen it, I’d rather not make too many comments about the whole process.

“We planned as if he was going to play. It’s probably good for the game and good for the World Cup (for England).”

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About Josh McAllister 1909 Articles
Journalist. Joined the Love Rugby League team full time at the start of 2022 having been a freelance reporter for several years. Previously media manager for Swinton and Rochdale.


  1. People need to calm down and actually try to understand why it happened.
    Anyone who spends time having to read wordy statements will be able to see this was completely to do with language and the original decision. The much maligned and quite often pants disciplinary panel clearly dug themselves into a situation here with their presentation of the original judgement and that’s why this follow up appeal has been successful, nothing more, nothing less.

    It has clearly not been a knee jerk overhauling of a ban just because St Helens appealed.

    All criticism should be aimed at the original judgement, not the panel which allowed the follow up appeal to go through.

    The original judgement had deemed the tackle not in breach of the “unnatural” position rule, as the arm was not in such a manner. It is a complex issue and can be hard to define. The original judgement had then also deemed appropriate to uphold a ban. That’s the problem here. The original judgement has said that the incident did NOT breach the “unnatural” position rule, but then deemed the incident worthy of a ban. The St Helens club have then picked apart this contradiction and the panel for the follow up appeal have noted the contradiction and quashed the judgement.

    All blame for this situation, apart from the blame for the actual physical tackle falling entirely upon the stupidity of St Helens player Morgan Knowles, should be directed towards the original panel, and not the follow up appeal panel.

    What the original panel essentially did was akin to saying “no, you did not go over the speed limit. We are now issuing you with a penalty for speeding”. It was their fault that it was wide open to be quashed.

    • I also don’t agree that there is a bias as it was St Helens that appealed. As a lifelong Toronto No. 1 fan I just don’t see that.

      The lack of bias is demonstrated by the fact that despite the original panel determining that the “unnatural” position rule was not broken, they still initially gave a ban. This means that even though the law, according to the panel, was NOT broken, they still gave a ban – there has clearly not been a bias towards the team when they have initially had a ban issued despite the panel determining the rule was not broken.

      The overturning of the ban following the further appeal was just the St Helens club performing due diligence (every reasonable organisation should do this) and noting that the ruling was made, essentially, in error and not according to, or in line with, the rules.

      The follow up appeal panel had no option other than overturning the decision. Once the flaw in the original ruling was identified, it was a mere formality that it would be overturned.

      • It seems reasonable to assume then that with all the knowledge of rugby league rules before them the first panel deliberately left a get out for a successful appeal by saints. Does sound a little paranoid but judging by some of their previous monumentally bad judgements I’m beginning to wonder.

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