Morgan Knowles is being tipped for an England starting spot this autumn (Image: Simon Whitehead/ SW Photo/News Images)Sign up to FREE email alerts from MirrorRugbyInvalid EmailSomething went wrong, please try again later.SubscribeWe use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time.More infoThank you for subscribingWe have more newslettersShow meSee ourprivacy notice

Celebrated coach John Kear claims his dream team would be made up entirely of Morgan Knowles, 17 times over.

Legendary hooker James Roby has also labelled Knowles as the man who “epitomises everything a rugby league player can and should be”. England coach Shaun Wane says the St Helens forward is the next Sean O’Loughlin – and for a boss who’s notoriously hard to please there is no higher praise.

And yet the man himself is so low maintenance that he’s flown under the radar of many fans for years. The 24-year-old forward even claims he’s “never been the most talented or fastest or strongest” player in the game.

It’s a personal assessment that’s turned him into an absolute machine when it comes to the hard graft, whether that’s in training or games. He’s hoping to put in another monumental stint in Saturday’s Challenge Cup final against Castleford – and will then happily carry on in his understated way. Knowles said: “I genuinely believe I have never been the best at anything, but I will never give in.

Knowles is rated highly by those that play alongside him
(Image: Mark Cosgrove/News Images)

“I always knew that if I wanted to be a success I had to be good at the mental side of the game and that’s what would set me apart. I’ve never been the most talented, fastest or strongest but I will do things that others won’t. When games are tough I will never look for an easy out. Other people will break before I do.”

Knowles’ phenomenal drive famously had doctors in a nervous state after a Wales game against Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby in the 2017 World Cup. Wales coach Kear said: “The humidity and temperature was ridiculously high and we got flogged.

“But the one person who was head and shoulders above everyone else on the pitch was Morgan. He played 73 minutes in sauna-like conditions and his temperature had risen that much that the doctor had to keep him in the ice baths for a long time.”

Knowles added: “The lads were soaking up the atmosphere after the game but I was going really hot and then shivering. I’d just wanted to keep going in the game.”

Knowles played for Wales in the 2017 World Cup
(Image: Bradley Kanaris)

Much of Knowles’ incredible workload in the pack is the nuts and bolts stuff that often gets overlooked by fans. His recent try-scoring exploits for England, plus his consistently high performances for Saints, are now starting to shatter that quiet reputation.

But Knowles insists he’s happy to stay in the shadows as long as he’s working hard for his team. He said: “I’m fairly private and not super big on social media. I don’t really put myself out there.”

Free time is spent doing up the house he bought with partner Rhyanna or making regular trips back to the Lake District. He said: “I am a really proud Cumbrian. My dad is an outdoor pursuits instructor there and I grew up canoeing, camping and all sorts of outdoor stuff. I love getting back there.”

And although he is set to line up for England in this autumn’s World Cup, he insists he will always be proud of the four caps he won for Wales, thanks to his mum’s Welsh heritage. He said: “I massively appreciate my time with Wales and I’m definitely a better player because of that and John Kear.

“Representing my Welsh heritage meant a lot to my family but first and foremost I’m a really proud Cumbrian and want to fly the flag for Cumbria and England. Playing for England and Shaun Wane will take my game to another level. I have a lot more improvement in me to come.”