In many ways England vs Tonga can be distilled into Wigan Warriors and St Helens as two of their iconic coaches go toe to toe.
Shaun Wane, like Leeds Rhinos’ Brian McDermott, turned timing the room to Old Trafford into an art form but upon his Wigan exit as a Champion in 2018, the Warriors left a power vacuum that St Helens filled and Kristian Woolf would replace Justin Holbrook in 2020 and lead the Saints to success after success until his departure in 2022.
Now the two collide as England and Tonga head coach and Shaun Wane made some interesting remarks about the Tonga Head Coach pre-match.
“I can’t wait,” he said of the game, “To finally have an international calendar is so important and to have the first-ever Tonga series over here makes it even more mouth watering.
“The number one priority is getting three wins, nothing is more important than that. It’s a big challenge- they’ve got lots of NRL players.
“It’s got the makings of a great series. We have to win, and Tonga will think the same.”
Then came an interesting remark about Woolf in which he said of the three time Super League winner that he did “okay” at St Helens.
He said: “I don’t really know Kristian Woolf personally, but he did okay at St Helens and has a fantastic group of players to coach.”
Wane quickly placed the focus back onto the event at hand saying: “We’ve also got a lot to be proud about and we’re going to be tough to beat as well.
“Being in the camp is brilliant, even though we’ve not had as much time with all of our players as Tonga, we’ll make sure they’re very well prepared.
“We enjoyed the World Cup because it was seven weeks of full on video, messaging, training and recovery- I loved it. The chance to have the players all together is a great opportunity for me and the staff.
“We’re in the same hotel and at the same training venue as last year. It’s important to have that because the players know what they’re doing every day.”