St Helens expected to appoint Paul Wellens as new head coach

St Helens look set to name Paul Wellens as Kristian Woolf’s successor as coach, with an announcement expected to be made as early as this week.

Wellens, 45, will be one of England coach Shaun Wane’s assistants for the forthcoming World Cup campaign.

Australian Woolf, who will lead Tonga into the tournament, has departed after three seasons to work with Wayne Bennett at the Dolphins, the new Queensland-based NRL team.

Saints, the League Leaders’ Shield winners, beat Leeds Rhinos 24-12 in the Grand Final at Old Trafford last month to make it four titles on the trot, an unprecedented achievement in the summer era.

St Helens-born one-club man Wellens joined the coaching staff after hanging up his boots in 2015 (he helped win two World Cub Challenges, five titles and five Challenge Cups during 495 appearances, in which he chalked up 1,005 points).

He initially became a player performance manager, working with the Academy then the Reserves, before stepping up to be assistant coach at first-team level.

Woolf recently emphasised Wellens’ credentials, saying: “It’s not my decision, but I would 100 percent endorse Paul.

“He is honest and trustworthy, traits you need in a good coach, and he has a good demeanour.

“He has worked with people like Wayne Bennett (also with England) and Shaun Wane, and the biggest rap I can give him is that he thinks about the game a little differently.

“He questions me, throws ideas at me. Sometimes we run with them, sometimes I think differently. He also spends a lot of time thinking about how he gives messages.

“He is the best assistant I’ve worked with.”

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