COACH Kristian Woolf says St Helens’ toughest opponents this season could be … themselves!
The quest for a third straight Super League triumph, last achieved by Leeds in 2009, starts against Salford on Friday.
“It takes a lot of effort and energy to win titles. To win enough games over the course of a year is tough and to do it for two years is even tougher,” said Australian Woolf, whose first campaign in the UK after replacing compatriot Justin Holbrook ended with November’s 8-4 Grand Final win over Wigan.
“We’ve managed that, but to do it for a third time? It’s a massive task but one we want to take on and succeed in.
“The biggest threat could be ourselves, because we have to keep hitting those standards week in, week out, and that’s not easy.
“Add to that the improvements made by clubs across the competition, and the challenge is even greater. The chasing pack are all better than before.
“So many have made good signings, and I include Salford in that.”
The Red Devils, Grand Finalists in 2019, when Saints won 23-6, now have Richard Marshall, Woolf’s former assistant, at the helm following Ian Watson’s departure to Huddersfield.
“As soon as I met Rich, I thought he had potential to be a head coach,” added Woolf.
“He’s a hard worker and has some different ideas, and it was sometimes difficult for him because he had to run my line. He did, and I respect him for that.”
Marshall, who coached Halifax before his switch to Saints in 2019, said: “Kristian was great to work with, and I really enjoyed my time at Saints, a wonderful club.
“Sure, we had our ups and downs, but he’s a great bloke and I learned a great deal from him.
“Now my focus is on Salford, and after a good pre-season, we have the chance to pit ourselves against the reigning champions, which is exciting.
“Salford have had a good couple of seasons under Ian (Watson) with getting to the Grand Final then the Challenge Cup final. The aim is to improve on that, which is a big challenge.
“There has been change, in terms of the coach and players, and with change comes freshness, different ideas and hopefully invigorated individuals.
“Saints are a great club, one we want to try and emulate.
“There are very few weaknesses within their team, which is as good as last year, if not better.
“We have a new team, and it will take time to gel, but we still want to go out in round one and show what Salford are about from the off.”
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