After much hype and plenty of discussion on the terraces St Helen’s Rugby League final announced who will be taking over from the departing Head Coach Justin Holbrook next season as Kristian Woolf was unveiled in a video released by the club yesterday.
The 44 year old is possible best known for his exploits with Tonga over the past five years, where he has pulled them out of the Rugby League wilderness to within 60 seconds of a World Cup final in 2017, suffering a narrow two point loss to England in the Semi’s.
He also has plenty of experience working in the NRL, most recently as the assistant to former St Helens boss Nathan Brown at Newcastle Knights, before becoming the clubs Interim head coach for the final few rounds of the season when Brown left in mid August.
It is believed Woolf has signed a two year deal with the Super league side with the option of a further twelve months and seemed very passionate about the opportunity to come to England in his announcement video.
“I'm confident we can achieve great things together,” Woolf said. “I'm excited and privileged to be joining St Helens as head coach. It's a great opportunity for me.”
Woolf will offically take over at the Totally Wicked Stadium on November 1st, as he replaces Holbrook who will be returning to the NRL to take over as head coach of the vacant Gold Coast Titans next season.
Although Woolf achievements are notable, he will have a hard act to follow as Holbrook as earned himself a place in the hearts of the Saints fans, since his arrival two and a half years ago he has turned the club around both on and off the field! A down to earth bloke who always has time for the fans and encourages his players to be active in the local community he has taken the side from a midtable team to the league leaders shield in consecutive seasons, this year with the possibility of finishing the season a whopping 18 points clear of their nearest rivals.
Holbrook’s only downfalls in his super league record have been his sides inability to perform when it matters with defeats in two semi finals last year and this years Challenge cup final despite being overriding favourites on each occasion.
Despite that St Helens Chairman Eamonn McManus believes Woolf can continue to help the club grow and is “ideally qualified” to build on the clubs recent success as he told the clubs website;
“He has the experience and expertise to bring the best out of our existing squad and to improve it further, we are very confident that the Saints will seriously compete for honours under his tenure and that we will continue to play attractive and exciting rugby league.”