Woolf won't talk of Super Lge four-timer

Kristian Woolf is playing down talk of a possible Super League 'four-peat' for his St Helens side.
Kristian Woolf is playing down talk of a possible Super League 'four-peat' for his St Helens side.

Australian coach Kristian Woolf insists there is no talk in his St Helens camp about the prospect of winning a fourth straight grand final as he warns of a more competitive Super League in 2022.

Woolf initially helped consolidate the success of his Australian predecessor Justin Holbrook in guiding Saints to a successful title defence in his first season in charge in 2020 and last year guided them to the league and cup double.

Their hat-trick of grand final triumphs equalled the feat of Leeds, and Woolf's men are the bookmakers' favourites to make history by becoming the first team to win four in a row.

Not that it is in the minds of his players.

"It hasn't been spoken about at all," Woolf said.

"Once you get into pre-season, everything is pretty quickly forgotten. There's a lot of hard work to do."

The 46-year-old Queenslander Woolf, who had a brief spell coaching Newcastle Knights, has made sweeping changes to his triumphant squad, largely due to pressures of the salary cap and the desire to reward young talent.

"It's certainly going to be a challenging year if teams have the success they want to have. If you play every game in the Challenge Cup and play through to the grand final, you're playing 33 or 34 games and you can throw in internationals," said Woolf.

At least St Helens won't have the distraction of the World Club Challenge, the annual duel with the NRL champions which normally takes place in England in February but has fallen victim to the pandemic for the second successive year.

Even in normal times, the Australians are reluctant participants and that is something Woolf would like to see change.

"The World Club Challenge is a great concept but I think Super League probably value it more than the NRL," he said.

"It should be in the calendar every year, probably outside the World Cup.

"It should become something that's really pivotal in our competitions and gains respect. Unfortunately, it's not quite been given that.

"This year, with the way our season is put together and with the World Cup at the end of the year, the reality is it was probably never going to happen. And if it did, something else was going to have to give. You can't keep adding."

Australian Associated Press