Yesterday, St Helens confirmed that Regan Grace would be leaving at the end of the season to take on a new and exciting challenge in rugby union with Racing 92.
Grace made his Saints debut in 2017 scoring a try in the Saints-Wigan derby and went on to win three Grand Finals with the club, a Challenge Cup and two League Leaders’ Shield and is chasing more silverware before his exit.
Today, St Helens boss Kristian Woolf spoke for the first time since the news and lamented the decision but also noting how difficult Grace found making it.
“It is a blow,” Woolf Said, “In my media conferences we made it really clear and we made it clear to Regan how much he means to us. We worked extremely hard where we thought we could keep Regan here.
“I know from my conversations with Regan and his conversations with the group that it’s been a really difficult decision for him.”
He also noted the difficulties of keeping a top player like Grace in a salary capped sport especially when rugby union and the NRL has higher salary caps: “At the end of the day we’re in a position where we’ve got to try and balance the salary cap and it’s not an even playing field. We have competition from the NRL which has a cap three times higher and rugby union in this country and rugby union in France which is again three or four times higher.
“As a game if we had a higher salary cap it would give us a better chance to keep players like Regan who fans come to watch.
“I think as we look to reform we’ve got to see whether we can make it more of an even playing ground.”
After this he explained the process St Helens will take in finding Grace’s replacement on the left wing for the Champions: “It’s something we’ve got to sort out and the news is new. We’re in the middle of four big games in Leeds, Catalans, Wigan and Huddersfield. There’s not a block of games which are more challenging and exciting for players.
“We’ve got the news within that so we’ve had to put that news to the side really quickly. Once we get through that block we’ll have a look at what we do next and how we fill that hole and we’ll come up with something whether that’s in house or someone coming in.”