St Helens have today confirmed the appointment of Kristian Woolf as head coach on a two-year deal, taking over from Gold Coast Titans-bound Justin Holbrook.

44-year-old Woolf arrives at the Saints from Newcastle Knights after a tenure as assistant – and, latterly, interim head coach – at the NRL club where he worked with former Saints head coach Nathan Brown. He had also been head coach of the Tongan national side since 2014, raising their world ranking from 14th to 4th. He memorably guided Tonga to the semi-finals of the 2017 World Cup where they were ultimately defeated by eventual runners up England. Earlier in that tournament, the Tongans defeated New Zealand, the first time a tier two nation defeated a tier one side.

Saints chairman Eamonn McManus commented of his confidence that the club will continue competing for honours under Woolf and that the club will continue to play an exciting brand of rugby. Woolf himself spoke of his pride at being appointed in the role. “I’m excited and privileged to be joining St Helens as Head Coach,” he told the club website. “It’s something I have always wanted to do and it’s a great opportunity for me. St Helens is a club with an amazing history and I’m confident we can achieve great things together.”