St Helens boss Kristian Woolf urges ‘smarter’ schedule and fewer club games

St Helens coach Kristian Woolf has criticised the burden placed on players who represent their countries, with too many games and too many examples of matches crammed into short periods of time.

“We could have been a bit smarter, limited the number of games and short turnarounds,” said Woolf, who will lead the Tongan national team at this year’s World Cup,

“We have an ideal of how many league games, Cup games and international games we should play, but rather than having give and take, we add, add and add again. 

“Some players will go to a World Cup having played 35 games this year. If they play in a World Cup Grand Final, they will end up playing 42 games.

“We have the Easter double header and another one coming up at the end of August.

“We need to be a lot smarter for our players going forward, but that’s for a different year because the horse has already bolted for this year’s tournament.”

Meanwhile Woolf has defended his backrow forward Sione Mata’utia, who was suspended for three matches last week for lifting Huddersfield Giants player Danny Levi from the floor.

”We have to get situations out of our game where players play-act to try to get results, particularly in TV games,” said Woolf.

“He (Mata’utia) knew there was no foul play and the player was playing for a penalty. That isn’t what our game was built on.

“I won’t condone Sione’s actions, but the person trying to bend the rules in his favour benefits from it and that’s not what we want in our game.”

Last week Woolf insisted that he has not yet signed a contract to coach anywhere in 2023.

“Nothing has changed at all in my situation,” he said.

“Any reports saying anything is confirmed are not correct. When I know what I’m doing, which needs to be in the near future, the next couple of weeks, then I’ll comment.”

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