“Most successful coach of this era” Kristian Woolf on learning from Wayne Bennett

·3-min read
Kristian Woolf and Wayne Bennett Credit: Alamy
Kristian Woolf and Wayne Bennett Credit: Alamy

Dolphins assistant coach Kristian Woolf says he is enjoying the experience of working with NRL supercoach Wayne Bennett so far in the 2023 campaign. 

Woolf, 47, joined the Dolphins for their inaugural season in the NRL on a long-term deal from St Helens, having won the Super League title on every occasion possible in his three-year spell in charge.

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His new side have shocked the NRL so far in just their first season, claiming six wins from 10 to currently sit fifth on the NRL ladder.

The Dolphins opened their 2023 campaign with a strong effort against Sydney Roosters to claim a 28-18 victory at Suncorp Stadium. Other wins have come over against Canberra Raiders, Newcastle Knights, North Queensland Cowboys, Gold Coast Titans and most recently the Cronulla Sharks during Magic Round.

Bennett celebrated his 900th first-grade game as a coach against the Sharks, and the veteran has won seven titles in total Down Under.

“He’s certainly the most successful coach of this most recent era, that’s for sure,” Woolf said of Bennett.

“There’s always plenty to learn from blokes like Wayne. It is probably hard to single things out but he has got a great ability in terms of the messages that he gives.

“He delivers a great message and he’s always on point with that, with his timing and delivery.

“He’s got a great ability to keep players and staff really accountable and really holds them to task.

“He drives a high standard and when you put all those things together you can see why he has had the success he’s had and why he’s so revered as a coach. I am really enjoying working with him and I’m learning plenty from him every day, so it is great to be a part of.”

Kristian Woolf preparing for England series

Woolf will lead Tonga later this year in a three-game autumn test series against Shaun Wane’s England, with fixtures confirmed for St Helens, Huddersfield and Leeds.

Bennett, now 73, led England at the 2017 World Cup Down Under, as well as Great Britain’s revival, although the side fell to defeats to Tonga, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Woolf added: “We haven’t spoken about that in terms of playing against England and tips and that kind of thing, but he is a guy who I side beside at work and I certainly run plenty of things by him.

“I can lean on him a bit with his thoughts and experience and that kind of thing.

“When we were tossing up the idea of accepting an invitation to come over to play a three-game series, he was a bloke who I spoke to and he was extremely supportive.

“He saw the real positives there and the strengths of what that does for Tonga and what it does for international rugby league.

“He was extremely supportive of it and thought it was the way we should go, so it is great to have that endorsement as well.”

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