Morgan Knowles is probably not the name we all expected to dominate the build up to the 2022 Super League Grand Final.
The tireless St Helens forward is normally a man that goes under the radar and goes about his business very efficiently, but more often than not, quietly too.
However, his perceived ‘chicken wing’ tackle on Chris Atkin in Saints’ semi-final victory over Salford landed him in hot water with the RFL’s disciplinary panel.
After he was sin-binned in the game for the incident, Knowles was issued with a two-match ban which St Helens failed to appeal at the first attempt.
In a last-ditch attempt to make one of their key players available for selection against Leeds Rhinos in the Grand Final, Saints appealed again with new evidence and were able to overturn the suspension, much to everyone’s surprise.
Whether it was right or wrong, the fiasco dominated the headlines in the build up to the biggest match of the year and the man at the centre of it all has revealed his coping mechanism throughout the whole process.
“Yeah, it was some week,” Knowles admitted to Sky Sports. “It was not the ideal preparation you want going into a Grand Final.
“I had some ups and downs throughout the week but I’m just glad I could be out there.
“There has been a fair bit going on, which I just switched off from, I’ve not looked at it because it’s not going to do any good.
“I just focused on what I could control and doing my job in the game.”
Knowles played a typically understated but important role in St Helens 24-12 victory over the Rhinos at Old Trafford, as the Saints won their fourth consecutive Super League Grand Final.
The post-match stats unsurprisingly had Knowles as one of the players that had worked the hardest with and without the ball throughout the final, however when questioned about his impact, the England international was quick to deflect the praise onto one of his teammates.
“Matty Lees was unbelievable,” said Knowles. “The first 40 minutes he was everywhere, even right at the end there was a kick chase, and he was leading that.
“That just inspires you. You see him doing it and you go off the back of it and think that I want a piece of that.”
Incredibly, this Monday’s disciplinary news saw Knowles cited again following the game at Old Trafford, with the Match Review Panel issuing him with a one-match ban for dangerous contact.
Though this won’t get the headlines of his charge from the previous week, Knowles will now miss England’s World Cup warm-up game against Fiji should he be, as expected, selected in Shaun Wane’s squad for the upcoming World Cup.