Woolf – Saints in “really good spot” ahead of historic title defence

St Helens boss Kristian Woolf says his side is in good shape ahead of their bid for an historic fourth consecutive Betfred Super League title.

Speaking to Betfred TV, alongside four-time Grand Final winner Paul Sculthorpe and legendary commentator Eddie Hemmings for our Betfred Super League Season Preview, he said: “I think we’re in a really good spot to start the year.

“It’s [pre-season] been really good. We’ve had a little bit of disruption after Christmas, as I’m sure most teams have, with Covid, but outside of that I’ve been really happy with how they’ve come back and approached the pre-season.”

When asked by Hemmings if there’s been talk in-camp about becoming the first team in Super League history to win four Grand Finals in a row, he said: “They’re very aware of what’s in front, what opportunity’s there, but it’s not something we’ve discussed very much, no.”

Later on in the show, Woolf added: “There’s no guarantee [about winning another title]. There’s no such thing as fairy tales. Everyone would love one, but you’ve got to work really hard and have a lot of things go your way as well.

“But one thing I do know about this group is they’re going to give themselves the absolute best chance.”

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Having completed the Betfred Super League hat-trick by beating Catalans Dragons 12-10 in last year’s Grand Final, Saints are unsurprisingly our outright favourites at 5/2 to win this year’s showpiece finale at Old Trafford.

However, the pressure of chasing history and being the one everyone has to beat isn’t something that phases Saints’ Aussie coach.

“We sit very comfortably with that to be honest,” he said. “It’s a privilege to have that sort of pressure. You only get that pressure when you’ve had a bit of success and there’s an expectation that you have a chance of doing it again.”

Woolf was full of praise for young stars in his pack – and of course 36-year-old skipper James Roby, who Sculthorpe hinted may have another couple of seasons still in him.

He said: “Jack Welsby and Lewis Dodd are two guys we’ve had in the system for a long time. We certainly know their talent, we get to see it first hand every week.

“We do 13-on-13 in training, and they’re only our second so to speak and they’re carving up the first team at times.”

On Roby, he added: “He’s got a real spring in his step. He’s up there competing with guys like Lewis Dodd who are extremely fast and extremely fit.

“He’s elite fitness wise, he’s a real competitor, he’s tough, skilful – he’s got everything that you want from a player in that position.”

“Why has this group had so much success? The man who’s leading them is a big, big part of that success. He’s the best leader I’ve dealt with, there’s no doubt about that.”

The Betfred Super League season kicks off tonight with a mouth-watering repeat of the 2021 Grand Final as champions St Helens host runners-up Catalans Dragons at the Totally Wicked Stadium, free-to-air on Channel 4, at 8pm.

We make Saints 4/11 favourites to get their title defence off to a winning start – while Catalans are 5/2 to make their presence known right from the start.


Watch the full Betfred Super League Season Preview below


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