Woolf explains the decision to hand Regan Grace a one-year deal amidst rugby union interest

The news that Regan Grace has signed a new one-year contract at St Helens was met with some groans amongst the Saints faithful. But, Kristian Woolf has said it was the best deal for both parties.

“It’s really positive news for us; Regan is really well respected in the group and he’s come though the Saints system,” Woolf said.

“We’re very lucky to have an academy that develops such good and clever players – he’s terrific to have in our team, and we all see what he can do with ball in hand.

“He’s got speed and finishes well, but he’s grown so much as a presence in the group. In defence, his talk and detail have improved vastly and he’s still only young so he’s only going to get better.

“We’re happy with the arrangement we’ve come to and Regan is extremely happy here.

“I think, unfortunately for clubs, it’s become a lot more regular in the game with players wanting more short-term contracts.

“We know he’s 100% committed to the club and I’m sure Regan will be at the club for a long time.

“I’m not 100% sure who the rugby union interest was from, but I know there was interest there.

“A player like Regan comes from Wales and with the history of rugby union in Wales and a player of his sort of talent, then it was no surprise whatsoever that rugby union clubs had a look.”

With James Bentley expected to be sidelined for an extended period of time, Woolf is happy to welcome back Joel Thompson as well as Joe Batchelor, who left the field against Leigh with a head injury.

“Joel is back in this week, he’s been carrying a niggle ever since the trials so it was a weekend that we had to give him a break.

“If we hadn’t have given him a break, it would have hung around all season and affect his performances.

“He’s done really well to get through it the best he has, he will give a 9 or 10 every week with how we handles himself each week.

“Joe went off with a head injury, but he actually passed all of his tests.”

The St Helens boss has become more concerned about the increased number of head injuries appearing in the game and he wants more research to be done.

“It’s becoming more prevalent; we treat them properly and better than what we have done in the past and we are more conscious of the after-effects of concussions nowadays and more on top of how we handle them.

“The game has more fatigue and there could be more in terms of constant physicality in the game – it’s something we need to monitor going forward and do more research into it.

“The game needs to be smart going forward, especially regarding short turnarounds and the number of games being played.”

Saints go up against Huddersfield in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals on Friday night and Woolf revealed that his players can’t wait.

“It’s what the players want – they want a big game and it’s what excites them and that’s certainly what we’re going to get this week.

“We got a real good look at Huddersfield two weeks ago so we know how tough it is going to be, but having that fresh in the memory is a real positive and I know the players will be up for it at the weekend.

“We know we’ve got a lot of improvement in us – we’ve done a lot of good things and we need to make sure we put ourselves in a position to win games.”

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