Woolf cho­sen to re­place Hol­brook at St He­lens

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Cricket - By Ross Hep­pen­stall

St He­lens have con­firmed the ap­point­ment of New­cas­tle Knights as­sis­tant Kris­tian Woolf as their new head coach af­ter he fought off com­pe­ti­tion from NRL ri­vals and Sal­ford’s Ian Wat­son.

Saints, who lead the Su­per League by a record 16 points, will lose Justin Hol­brook when he heads home to Aus­tralia to take charge of Gold Coast Ti­tans at the end of this sea­son.

St He­lens chief ex­ec­u­tive Mike Rush met nu­mer­ous po­ten­tial suc­ces­sors dur­ing a re­cent trip to Aus­tralia and a four-man short­list was drawn up which con­sisted of Nrl-based coaches Woolf, Adam O’brien, Ja­son Ryles and also Wat­son.

Woolf, cred­ited with im­prov­ing New­cas­tle’s de­fence this sea­son, has signed a two-year deal with Saints, hav­ing an op­tion to ex­tend his con­tract by a fur­ther year.

The 44-year-old, who com­bines his cur­rent job at New­cas­tle with the role of head coach of the Tonga na­tional team, joined the Knights last year from the Townsville Black­hawks.

Woolf, who starts work on Nov 1 and will not make any ma­jor ad­di­tions to his squad ahead of next sea­son, said: “I’m ex­cited and priv­i­leged to be join­ing St He­lens as head coach.

“It’s some­thing I have al­ways wanted to do and it’s a great op­por­tu­nity for me.

“St He­lens is a club with an amaz­ing his­tory and I’m con­fi­dent we can achieve great things to­gether.”

Woolf pre­vi­ously worked as an as­sis­tant coach at Bris­bane Bron­cos and his ap­point­ment con­tin­ues St He­lens’ trend of ap­point­ing over­seas coaches, fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of Ian Mill­ward, Daniel An­der­son, Mick Pot­ter, Royce Sim­mons and Nathan Brown.

Each mem­ber of that group guided Saints to a Grand Fi­nal, with An­der­son win­ning a mem­o­rable tre­ble in 2006.

Saints chair­man Ea­monn Mcmanus said: “We con­sider that Kris­tian is ideally qual­i­fied and placed to build upon the cur­rent suc­cess of the team and the club.

“He has the ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise to bring the best out of our squad and to im­prove it fur­ther. We are very con­fi­dent the Saints will com­pete for honours un­der his tenure and we will con­tinue to play at­trac­tive and ex­cit­ing rugby league.”

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