‘Proud’ Kristian Woolf made up to be returning to St Helens this autumn

·3-min read
Kristian Woolf Tonga News Images Credit: Alamy
Kristian Woolf Tonga News Images Credit: Alamy

Tonga coach Kristian Woolf might not be the head coach of St Helens anymore, but he still has a strong affinity with the town and its people.

The 47-year-old enjoyed three years in the north of England with the Saints, winning the Super League title all three seasons.

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Woolf returned to his Australian homeland in the off-season, linking up with the Dolphins, who are the NRL’s newest side.

Woolf will return to St Helens this autumn as coach of the Tongan national side, when his side take on England in the first of a three-match test series.

“Being back in St Helens is outstanding,” Woolf said.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my association with St Helens as a team but also St Helens as a town.

“I’d hope that means something to the people and I’m really looking forward to seeing the people there again.

“We’re certainly going to have some players from St Helens. I would like to think that we left a great mark, we got to a lot of schools and a lot of clubs and the players really enjoyed their time there and I think it was really well appreciated by the people of St Helens.

“I’d like to think that we’ll be playing in front of sell-out crowds and that’s what a test match of this standard deserves.”

Saints’ Tongan contingent

The Super League champions have three Tongan players in the shape of Will Hopoate, Agnatius Paasi and Konrad Hurrell, who will both be hoping to feature at the end of the year.

Woolf praised versatile back Hopoate, who has won 12 caps for his beloved Tonga on the international stage.

“He is a good player,” Woolf said. “He hasn’t had a great run over there and he hans’t been able to show what he’s capable of.

“I made the point last year that he played 12 games and we won all those 12 games, some of them when he didn’t finish the game as well.

“I know that all the Saints players wanted to play with him and want him in the team every week and they certainly know what he offers, it is the same with Tonga. If he can keep finding that form and keep himself healthy, then we’ll look forward to having him at the end of the year.”

A sense of pride for Kristian Woolf

Although he is now living Down Under and working as Wayne Bennett’s assistant coach at the Dolphins, Woolf gets up early some weeks to watch St Helens on the TV.

He said: “I get a real sense of pride every time I got to watch them play when I was involved with them, but I still make the effort to get up early to watch games like Saints-Wigan and Saints-Warrington and see how they’re performing.”

Tickets now on sale

The Rugby Football League have confirmed that tickets are now on sale for this autumn’s test series as they look to build on last year’s home World Cup.

Tickets are on sale now at eticketing.co.uk/rugbyleague from £25 adults and £12.50 Under-16s. A three-match bundle is also available from £52.50 Adults and £26.25 Under-16s.

The RFL say the series broadcasting and naming rights will be announced in due course.

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