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How England’s football facilities played a role in St Helens’ journey to Grand Final glory

St Helens secured their fourth consecutive Super League title on Saturday as they beat Leeds Rhinos 24-12 at Old Trafford.

The Saints somewhat stumbled towards the end of the regular season with some inconsistent form, however, they still did enough to win the League Leaders’ Shield and secure a home semi-final and a week off.

During that week off it has been revealed that Kristian Woolf’s side had the privilege of using some of the best facilities in the country.

St. George’s Park in Staffordshire was built and is used primarily by the England football team, and the facility possesses world-class pitches, gyms and recovery for some of the most well-known athletes and sportsmen in the UK.

The England Rugby League team have previously spent time at St. George’s Park, however St Helens took up the opportunity to travel down south and use the elite facility, allowing them the best preparations ahead of the Super League play-offs.

Speaking to The FA’s website, St. Helens Head of Performance, Matt Daniels, said: “The hotel in close proximity to the elite facilities provided us with a base for the team to interact closely with each other, as well as providing a logistically smooth transition into the required training modality.

“The athlete flow of the facilities enabled the us to provide a first-class performance and recovery-based package over the three-day stay.

“The pitch we used was excellent and the ground staff ensured that the markings had been completed to our exact specifications.

“The staff played a pivotal role in ensuring we could implement a smooth and successful performance package for the players. We had a great deal of communication pre-camp, but also with the adjustment of timings during our stay.

“The overall experience was extremely positive; both players and staff departed feeling that the camp was extremely successful and met the goals we set out prior to booking.”

As it proved, St Helens’ time at St. George’s Park certainly worked. Despite some inconsistency heading into the Super League play-offs, Saints were able to reach a new level when it mattered.

Playing at a high intensity, Woolf’s side were able to battle past in-form Salford 19-12 in the semi-finals, before healing some old wounds with a 24-12 victory over Leeds Rhinos in the Grand Final at Old Trafford.

The triumph secured a record 10th Super League crown for Saints, allowing them to reflect and see their time at St. George’s Park as a worthwhile experience that played a useful part along the road to another success.

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