Kristian Woolf wants Wayne Bennett to remain with Tonga for World Cup

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Kristian Woolf Credit: PA Images
Kristian Woolf Credit: PA Images

Tonga head coach Kristian Woolf says he would love to work alongside Wayne Bennett for the upcoming Rugby League World Cup.

Former England boss Bennett returns to the international scene in an advisory role with Tonga ahead of their Pacific Test against New Zealand.

Woolf will remain in Super League with St Helens, with Dean Young taking charge for the clash at Mt Smart Stadium on June 25.

Bennett will return to club coaching next year with NRL’s new 17th side in the Dolphins. The former Australia and Great Britain boss will help out Young, who played under the 72-year-old when the Dragons won the premiership in 2010.

Young has been assistant with Tonga and also North Queensland, while Sika Manu will also join the coaching staff for the test. 

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Kristian Woolf on Dean Young and Wayne Bennett

“Dean Young has worked with us before and he’s a very popular coaching member within the players and very highly respected by the players,” Woolf told Love Rugby League.

“Having someone that knew how we work and how our camps work and knew the players really well was important. He certainly fits that bill and he’ll do a great job.

“Not being able to be there myself, I thought it was really important to have that senior figure as well.

“Someone that can really help Dean out with the coaching sides; it’ll be quite a busy week. There’s a lot of things that go on in an international week, particular one for Tonga when we’re based in New Zealand.

“Having that senior figure there and a really strong figure there was important. I had to put a fair bit of thought into that.

“Most guys that fit that bill are coaching NRL teams. It’s difficult to be coaching NRL teams and to make yourself available for a mid-season test. I don’t think most would be able to do that.

“Wayne fits the bill perfectly. He’s exactly those things that I described before in terms of helping Dean Young out; in terms of being a really strong presence for our group and really helping that commitment. 

“He is a guy that, because of his presence and because of what he’s done in the game, he knows how to get the best out of players. That’s exactly what we’re going to need for that game.

“We’re going to have some younger boys that haven’t played test match footy or for Tonga, so his presence is going to be invaluable for them.”

Woolf hoping to work alongside Wayne Bennett

Woolf revealed that Bennett’s new role is initially just for the test match later this month. However, the Tonga boss told Love Rugby League that he’d like to work alongside him beyond that.

“It’s initially just for this test, but I’d love it to be for the World Cup as well,” he said.

“At the minute it’s just for this test and we’ll get that out the way and we’ll figure out what we’ll do next.”

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