Kristian Woolf will no longer be at St Helens in 2023.
That much has been confirmed this morning in a statement released by the club, with Woolf saying: “This has not been an easy decision for myself or my family, but it’s time for us to return home. We made a decision a little while ago due to personal factors that have played their part in our decision. The timing has also combined with an opportunity that has arisen in Australia.
“I have been here for three years and I have loved every minute of it. I love the Club and what it has provided for both me and my family. The fans have been great with me, the passion they show and the way they support the Club is terrific. They have also made my family feel at home and have welcomed us into the community and on behalf of my family I want to thank them for that.
“I also want to pay thanks to the St Helens board, staff and my players. It has been a privilege to work with this exceptional group of men who are all extremely driven and worked so hard to achieve the success they have.
“The hardest thing is having to leave an exceptional group who buy into what you want them to do and are great players and people. What I love about them is how they compete and have a relentless attitude every week. That is extremely hard to say goodbye to. This is the same for the staff, who are great people to work with and are all on the same page, working closely together to move in the same direction.
“They have all helped me become a better coach and whilst I am returning back home, my complete focus is ensuring I play my small part in helping this group achieve success this season.”
However, just who could replace the two-time Grand Final winner at the Totally Wicked Stadium?
Talk about learning from the best; Paul Wellens has been assistant to both Justin Holbrook and Kristian Woolf at St Helens and will be more than ready to step into the breach if necessary. A man that knows what it takes to be a St Helens player and ambassador, Wellens would command the respect that the club needs to keep moving forward. Though Saints may be once bitten, twice shy following the appointment of legend Keiron Cunningham all those years ago, Wellens looks perfect to fit into the mould left by Holbrook and Woolf. Wellens really is the future of St Helens and it would be a big statement if he was given the role.
Currently assistant coach to Todd Payten at the North Queensland Cowboys, Dean Young is in the mould of the type of coach that Saints have been known to go for. Like Holbrook and Woolf, Young is relatively well known in the NRL without being given a major head coaching role – though he has been interim for St George Illawarra Dragons in the past. At the end of 2020, Young left the Dragons for the Cowboys where he has been instrumental in helping Payten guide the Queensland side to second, just six points behind leaders Penrith Panthers. Aged just 38, Young would bring an increasing vibrancy and enthusiasm to the Totally Wicked Stadium.
Brother of former St Helens forward Jason, Nathan Cayless is currently at the Wests Tigers, but his contract runs out at the end of this season. Again in the mould of Dean Young in terms of age and enthusiasm, Cayless has yet to be given a major head coaching role, but one in Super League could well appeal to the Parramatta Eels legend. In 2016, the Aussie became boss of the Wentworthville Magpies – Wests’ feeder team – but left for the New Zealand Warriors in 2018 to coach the Warriors’ reserve side. Saints like to give opportunities.