Some people dismiss Kristian Woolf’s success at St Helens as he inherited a great side.
That is true, he inherited Justin Holbrook’s Super League Champions who had also claimed back-to-back League Leaders’ Shields.
However, to win three more Grand Finals in a row after that as well as winning the League Leaders’ Shield and the Challenge Cup Final in 2022 and 2021 respectively, Woolf’s achievements have to be credited.
But we shouldn’t just credit him for the silverware he’s brought to the Totally Wicked Stadium but also for the players he’s developed.
It was under him that Jack Welsby became a super star and now a key player in the England team, perhaps their most important player.
Meanwhile, James Bentley’s growth as a player was sparked by Woolf.
But two members of the England squad, one who most would never have believed would be in the mix two years ago, are also players who have developed massively under him.
Joe Batchelor is of course one of them who climbed up the divisions to be at St Helens. He was initially a bit part player but under Woolf last year became a first team regular and is now playing in a World Cup for England.
Meanwhile, Matty Lees has made the St Helens number 10 shirt his own since the departure of Luke Thompson.
Again, Woolf should be credited partly for this as Lees battled back from injury but also wasn’t rushed by Woolf who brought in James Graham as a stop gap.
Unsurprisingly, Woolf is immensely proud to see both in England shirts even if they are on a collision course to meet in the semi-finals.
He also said that he believes the development of them both has had a big impact on Super League.
He said on the Rugby League World Cup page: “I’m really proud to see Joe Batchelor and Matty Lees get their opportunity.
“The way they’ve progressed and developed as players has had a real impact on Super League.
“And I think they’re going to go great through the World Cup as well.”
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) October 22, 2022