So, finally we say goodbye to our esteemed coach Kristian Woolf at the end of this 2022 season. What a job he has done!
I imagine it’s never easy taking over at the end of a Championship-winning season like Woolfy did, following on from the Gold Coast-bound Justin Holbrook.
However, as expected he brought in his own philosophies on how he wanted the team to play, and I believe again massively improved an already winning side. Watching Saints over the last couple of years, you clearly see it’s a side that prides itself on its defence.
I know that’s something Woolfy instils. With that, he has continued the Saints tradition of free-flowing attacking rugby, but with the clinical standards of skill that you expect from a champion side.
I’ve had the pleasure to get to know Kristian over his time, and it’s clear to see why he is so very well-respected and admired. A straight-talking, honest, caring leader. Let’s hope he gets the send-off he deserves come September 24, and celebrates his third consecutive Betfred Super League title in charge!
There is hopefully 160 minutes of his Saints career to go, but following that, the boss will return to the NRL to join the new Queensland side Dolphins. I’m sure I have the echo of every single person associated with the club in wishing him the very best with his new role.
So, who’s next? Clearly the board will have been in discussions with Kristian over the past few months and having a plan ready if and when he decided to return to Australia. For me however there’s only one man for the job …. Paul Wellens.
Wello is an outstanding coach, a student of the game and more importantly a very ,very well respected person to those he has worked with. He has more than served his time as a number two, both at club and country level working alongside some of the best coaches in the game. Aside from St Helens, he’s worked with Wayne Bennett, Shaun Wane, Steve McNamara and Tony Smith to name a few.
I just hope the Saints faithful give him that chance too. We all know the last time a former player, a club great, an absolute hero within the town, Kieron Cunningham took the reins and it didn’t work out.
Paul Wellens is a totally different coach, and let’s not forget dealing with a totally different team than Kez had at the time. Wello has been an integral part of the three-peat success and for me has earned the shot at the top job.
Back to business! It was great to see James Roby finally get to lift the League Leaders shield on Saturday following the win over Betfred Championship-bound Toulouse. This has earned the players a much deserved and needed week off, before playing the lowest ranked winner of the quarterfinals this weekend.
And I’m going to say it will be Salford! ..the Red Devils play against 3rd placed Huddersfield Giants, while the Leeds Rhinos travelled to the south of France to face the Catalans Dragons.
I’m going for a Salford and Catalans win, and Wigan to face Catalan at the DW to decide who goes on to Old Trafford for the big dance on the 24th of September!
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