Super League coach on shock new role

Wigan Warriors, Warrington Wolves, Leigh Leopards, Hull KR, Salford Red Devils and of course the Catalans Dragons are dreaming of dethroning St Helens at the end of the year.

But the brilliant action doesn’t end at Old Trafford with Leeds Rhinos, Huddersfield Giants and St Helens set to host a series between England and Tonga.

In a bit of a shock, former England assistant and current St Helens boss Paul Wellens will assist his former Saints coach Kristian Woolf as he tries to lead Tonga to success in 2023.

On this shock appointment, Wellens said on BBC Radio Merseyside:

“I worked as Kristian’s assistant coach for three years when he came to the club. Over that period of time, we became very close colleagues but became good friends off the back of that. Not just myself and Christian but our families also.

“When he approached me a number of weeks ago now about the possibility of helping him out with Tonga. It’s something that I gave careful consideration to, but given the relationship I have with Wolfie, it’s one that excites me.

“First and foremost, getting the opportunity to work with Kristian again, but also doing something a bit different, something that’s obviously challenging when I’m working with a team that I suppose if you said to me four or five years ago, you’d be working with Tonga then I’d never believed you.

“No, I think they’ve been well received by them. Obviously I’ve got a really close working relationship with all those boys, Agnatius (Paasi), Hop (Will Hopoate) and Konnie (Konrad Hurrell”.

“I know in the time they’ve been here, I know what representing Tonga means to those blokes. So yeah, they’ve been totally fine with it. There’s not been a lot said really.

“I think what is obviously important and my priority from now to the end of the season is what happens here. The Tonga role is something that is exciting but that’s obviously a bit further down the track.”

Before that, Wellens has the small matter of trying to win the Super League trophy Tonga boss Kristian Woolf won last year.