Kristian Woolf oversaw Tonga’s start to the World Cup last night as the served up the game of the tournament so far as they just about edged a battle against Papua New Guinea 24-18 thanks to a late try.
The victory likely means Tonga will avoid England in the quarter-finals which, based on England’s win over Samoa on Saturday, will give their semi-finals a boost though they will still have to play a star-studded Samoa.
Woolf unsurprisingly watched the England game and was proud of one player in particular that being young Jack Welsby who Woolf has seen establish himself as the heart of a dominant St Helens side and Welsby shone against Samoa on Saturday with three try assists and a try himself.
On Welsby’s performance, Woolf said: “I was really proud watching him. He’s a terrific player, a terrific person. There’s no surprises there. I see what he does every week. It didn’t surprise me at all. I thought he was the best player on the field.”
When asked if he would be tempted in trying to bring Welsby over to the NRL with his new side the Dolphins, Woolf laughed and said: “That’s a loaded question ha, I’ve signed him here for three years, so I don’t think so.”
So St Helens fans can sleep easy knowing that Welsby although is admired by those in the NRL will likely stay at the Totally Wicked Stadium especially thanks to his three-year deal.
Woolf will be hoping that if the two teams meet later in the tournament that his Tongan side have a way of managing Welsby’s class.