England’s comfortable 26-4 victory at Headingley yesterday marked the clean sweep for Shaun Wane and his team over Tonga, the touring Pacific Islanders having struggled during the three tests and head coach Kristian Woolf has now confirmed there’s “lots to consider” going forward regarding if he’ll stay on in charge.
Woolf has coached Tonga since 2014, working with the national team long before he was landing Grand Finals in Super League, however he’s set to head into an NRL head coach job when Wayne Bennett steps down at the Dolphins. Woolf has been serving as Bennett’s assistant during the team’s debut season in the NRL but there’s been an established transition plan that will see him take over from the 2025 campaign.
Pairing that imminent NRL job with the major disappointment of both last year’s World Cup and this three match test series, Woolf was asked about his future in the role and his answer just seemed to cast more doubt and raise more questions than answers.
“I’ve got to wait and see. There’s a lot of things to consider there. Have got the passion, yeah I have,” Woolf explained before lauding praise on his current team.
“If every group is going to be as good as this group that we had on this tour, then you enjoy it, you want to be a part of it. I’ve loved everything about this tour, I’ve loved everything about this group and it makes you want to be involved again.
“As I said before, we might not have got the results but I’m extremely proud of how this group have carried themselves and I’m sure if you talk to every motel they’ll tell you how much they love our players because of the way they’ve carried themselves and the effort they’ve put on the field. So, I’ve definitely still got the passion.”
Looking further ahead though Woolf did reference his impending job with the Dolphins as being a potential roadblock in his role as Tonga’s head coach, a balance that could be difficult with a World Cup coming in 2026 and Tonga’s ascending status in world rugby.
Woolf continued: “In 12 months time I’ll be coaching in the NRL and I’ve got to figure out and see where it fits and what fits. There’s a lot of things that depends on as well. What the calendar actually looks like and what games are scheduled is a big part of that.
“I don’t want to speak out of school here, my intention here is that when I get back to Australia I’ll be in contact with people in the NRL and people who are now making themselves more involved in international rugby league and try and find out what that might look like and then we’ll figure out what our involvement is from there.”