St Helens head coach Kristian Woolf has become one of the leading coaches of the generation.
Over his five years as coach of the Tonga national team, Woolf improved the nation’s world ranking from 14th to 4th and guided them to the semi-finals of the World Cup back in 2017, defeating New Zealand along the way – the first time that a tier-two team had defeated a tier-one team. He also guided them to a famous victory over Great Britain Lions in 2019.
His professional coaching career began in 2003, where he coached the North Queensland Cowboys Schoolboys to a Grand Final. He returned to the Cowboys and in 2011 he led the Under 20’s (NYC) to the Grand Final for the first time in their history only to lose in golden point to the New Zealand Warriors. During that time, Woolf worked with the likes of Jason Taumalolo, Will Tupou, James Segeyaro, Kyle Feldt and Ray Thompson who all progressed to first grade rugby.
Two years later, he stepped up to become Assistant Coach of NRL side Brisbane Broncos and helped lead them to two finals in three years, before returning to North Queensland as the inaugural coach of the new Intrust Super Cup side, the Townsville Blackhawks in 2015. In the club’s first season, he led them to first place and the Grand Final.
In 2018, Woolf left his role as Blackhawks’ head coach, which he held for four seasons, to take up his assistant role with the Newcastle Knights – where Saints brought him from.
Since then, the Australian has won two Grand Finals, one Challenge Cup and one League Leaders’ Shield, but much has been made of his future this year with Woolf linked with a move to the Dolphins.
The Dolphins, of course, will be the NRL’s newest side in 2023 and Woolf has been linked with a move to become Wayne Bennett’s assistant for two seasons before taking over as head coach.
And, having been asked by Sky Sports pundit Jenna Brooks where and when his future will be announced, the Saints boss revealed it will be very soon.
“”Very soon actually, I will sort that out very soon,” Woolf said with a wry smile.
It would be a major boost for Saints and Super League if the 47-year-old pens a new deal at the Merseyside club.