Kristian Woolf oversaw Tonga’s first game of the Rugby League World Cup last night as they displayed the winning mentality he drills into all his teams as they defeated Papua New Guinea in a classic encounter decided at the death.
It was doubly special for Woolf with the game taking place at St Helens’ Totally Wicked Stadium, a ground that means so much to him after masterminding St Helens’ last three Super League titles in a historic four in a row.
Woolf has already made his last appearance at the stadium as Saints boss doing so in Saints’ semi-final win over Salford as he prepares for a job in the NRL alongside former England boss Wayne Bennett at new club The Dolphins.
However, last night was a chance to go back to a place he sees as home and after the game he spoke about how special it was: “It was extremely special, it does mean a lot to me this stadium and we walked in the other day for captain’s run and it just feels like you’re coming home I suppose.
“It’s got a great feel about it and it’s a place I love coming to.
“I’ve spoken plenty of times about how much I think of these blokes, and to be able to be here with them in a place that means a lot to me is really special.”
Woolf will have one last game at the Totally Wicked Stadium next week as Tonga take on Wales hoping to secure their place in the quarter-finals.