Jack Welsby to be St Helens starting full-back next season

Full-back Coote has signed a two-year contract with Hull KR after rejecting the offer of a new deal with Saints while scrum-half Fages is also out of contract and is expected to move to Huddersfield.

Woolf, who has confirmed he will stay on at the Totally Wicked Stadium for a third season in 2022, has announced utility back Welsby, 20, will be given Coote’s number one jersey while Dodd, 19, is earmarked for the number seven role.

Welsby scored the match-winning try from centre in November’s Grand Final and turned the recent Challenge Cup final against Castleford in his side’s favour with masterful second-half performance as a half-back but will be given a chance by Woolf to become the team’s full-back for the next decade.

Woolf said: “We would have loved Lachlan to stay around just a little bit longer but he’s got to look after his family and the offer he got from Hull KR was much greater than one we could give him.

“We’re not going to sign another full-back, we’re going to give Jack Welsby first crack at that to make that position his own.

“We’ve seen Jack’s talent over the last 18 months, he’s played almost every position except front row and, whatever role we’ve given him, he’s made a knack of making it work.

“His worth ethic and drive makes him exactly the type of player we want at Saints. We think he deserves first crack at full-back next year.”

Dodd, a specialist scrum-half who like Welsby has come through the club’s academy, will play out the rest of the season in Super League after Fages broke his shoulder at Wembley and is set to keep the job for the foreseeable future.

Lewis Dodd in action for St Helens

Woolf said: “Theo hasn’t come out and made his intentions clear yet. We’re not going to be signing other halves to come into the group and, if things don’t work out with Theo, we have every confidence that Lewis can step in and make that position his own.

“We see him as a real big part of the future. He can lead the club for the next 10 or 12 years. We certainly won’t be signing anybody above him that might affect his development.

“He’s an outstanding kid with how he wants to learn and work hard and I know he’s going to make the most of his opportunity. He’s right up to the task.”

Meanwhile, Woolf says he will be without several players for the trip to Hull on Monday with “nine or 10” members of his playing and backroom squad still affected by the outbreak of Covid-19 that forced the postponement of their last two fixtures.

Woolf says his team could also be under-strength for the table-topping clash with Catalans Dragons on Saturday week.

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