Kristian Woolf says he’s encouraged by the way his new-look St Helens squad are gelling as he continues to the countdown to the big Super League opener at home to Catalans Dragons next month.
Saints start their bid for an unprecedented fourth straight title in the summer era with a Thursday, February 10 repeat of last season’s Grand Final, which they won 12-10, this time at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
There are a string of new players on board, while others, including Kevin Naiqama and Lachlan Coote, the Grand Final points-scorers, have departed, with Alex Walmsley’s testimonial at home to Leigh on Friday, January 21, the sole pre-season game.
Woolf, the Tonga team chief who has brought in two of his internationals in centres Will Hopoate (from Canterbury Bulldogs) and Konrad Hurrell (Leeds), took his players away for a three-day training camp at Colwyn Bay, North Wales, and hailed it a big success.
“First and foremost, the aim was to get away and get in some hard work,” explained Woolf, who is approaching his third season at the helm after replacing Justin Holbrook following the club’s decision to take up a one-year contract extension option.
“It is a really short pre-season – and while it seems like there is a bit of time to work on things, you don’t get a lot of opportunities when it comes to the footy side of things.
“But the other aspect was that we have changed a third of our squad if the blokes who have come up from the Academy are included.
“It was really important that we got away and got to spend some time together and get that little bit of personal knowledge of each other and the trust that comes with that.
“That is going to help us at some stage during the season.”
Second rows Curtis Sironen (from Manly Sea Eagles) and James Bell (Leigh), Parramatta Eels hooker Joey Lussick and Widnes utility back Daniel Hill have also joined.
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