Kristian Woolf is no doubt beloved by everyone at St Helens.
He had the seemingly impossible job of filling the shoes vacated by Justin Holbrook in 2020 but has continued his predecessor’s fine work.
Yes the Saints may be a little less expansive under Woolf than Holbrook, but he’s made them into a robust outfit and has masterminded back-to-back Super League title wins and a double last year as he ended Saints’ 13-year wait for Challenge Cup success.
He is also beloved by the people of Tonga after spending nearly a decade with the national side and overseeing a revolution which has turned them into a top top team even beating Australia and making the World Cup semi-finals giving England a run for their money in 2017.
Now, the big three of England, Australia and New Zealand feels like a big four thanks to Woolf and Tonga and he’s excited for the World Cup.
Could he become the first coach to win both the Super League and World Cup and do so in the same season?
There is of course a further link between St Helens and Tonga with three of St Helens’ stars coming from the country which was sadly gripped by tragedy recently due to tsunami which St Helens have done their best to help the people of Tonga through.
Unsurprisingly, their first two games in the World Cup against Papua New Guinea and Wales will be held at St Helens’ Totally Wicked Stadium.
Woolf himself has spoken about this connection in doing so showering the people of St Helens in love.
This came in an interview with the World Cup’s official Twitter page: “The three Tongan guys we have here this year, our fans have really fallen in love with them. Konrad Hurrell is such a great personality and so engaging with the fans and he’s hard not to love from that point of view.
“Agnatius Paasi is a quieter personality but the way that he plays and carries himself, and then Will Hopoate who only joined this year, there’s a real connection there.
“There’s a lot of similarities between people from St Helens and people from Tonga and one of those things is that humble, hard-working nature.
“I’m looking forward to the St Helens fans getting behind the Tongan team, I know they’ll really love them.
“I can’t wait to see that connection between the two.”
🇹🇴 Tonga Head Coach, Kristian Woolf, took over in 2014 and what a journey it's been so far!
— Rugby League World Cup 2021 (@RLWC2021) July 4, 2022
His comments praising the people of St Helens indicate just how much he has settled into life at St Helens explaining why he was not tempted away by the New Zealand Warriors.
The Warriors had made him their number one coaching target following the exit of another former St Helens coach who delivered Grand Final success in the shape of Nathan Brown.
However, Fox Sports have revealed that their pursuit has failed with Woolf not willing to leave the Totally Wicked Stadium immediately determined to see out his contract and the project he’s overseeing.
The Warriors have instead turned their attention to Penrith assistant Andrew Webster.
As for Woolf, he’ll definitely be here until the end of the season but beyond that still remains unclear.
Should he decide to return home, his predecessor could become his successor should Justin Holbrook be relieved of his position at Gold Coast as reports suggest.
Nonetheless, Woolf’s focus remains with St Helens and Tonga and he noted he was very excited for the World Cup: “The potential we’ve got in that squad is really exciting.”