St Helens have been the benchmark in Super League for half a decade.
Remarkably, their success has come under the guide of two coaches. Justin Holbrook ended their time in the wilderness after a spell of one title in 11 years guiding the Saints to two League Leaders’ Shields, a Challenge Cup Final and the first of four consecutive titles the other three of which have come under the reign Kristian Woolf who has also won the Challenge Cup and League Leaders’ Shield in that period.
Now they stand at a crossroads. Determined to maintain their dominance, the question is who is the man to take over and sustain their monopoly at the top of Super League?
Many expect it to be Saints legend and Woolf’s assistant Paul Wellens who has stated publicly that he wants the job.
A foregone conclusion then? Not according to former Sky Sports commentator Stevo who, on the Eddie and Stevo podcast, suggested that the Saints are more likely to turn to another Australian and that to turn away from this tried and tested formula would take a “huge” decision.
“I think it’s going to be difficult for the people who are in control at St Helens because when you look back on the success they’ve had, it’s always been under Australian coaches,” Stevo said.
“Now it’s going to take a big decision, in fact a huge decision to give it to someone who has not got that Australian background.
“Obviously Paul Wellens has come through those wonderful coaches and I’m sure he would have picked a hell of a lot of information with regards to training etc.”
He went on to talk about the benefits of an Australian coach believing that they understand the importance of building a big squad and developing youngsters:
“But what you’ve got to look at it, is something people forget, they develop a lot of young players.
“That gives you the understanding, Australian coaches understand the importance and ensure that they don’t just have one hooker, another and a third. You’ve got to have a situation when you have a very strong pack and it would be greater if we had a stronger pack and four or five players on the touchline we could bring in. Injuries are inevitable, and I’ve always said if you win the Grand Final it’s because you’ve had a great squad.
“That has been evident at St Helens over the last four or five years.”