Justin Holbrook will return to Australia having helped re-establish St Helens as a force in Rugby League.
Holbrook took over from Kieron Cunningham in 2017 with the Saints not having won a Super League title since 2014. Rivals Wigan Warriors managed to pick up two wins in that period, with Leeds Rhinos also weighing in with two.
43-year-old Holbrook has spent almost three seasons with the Saints and has helped take them back to the summit of Rugby League. His crowning glory came as they won the Super League Grand Final against Salford Red Devils at Old Trafford. A post by bwin Rugby’s Tony Kelshaw details how Justin Holbrook’s side only lost 3 games going into the final, as well as defeating one of their dearest rivals on the way. Both matches are sure to feature on the list of his greatest moments.
They finished top of the league in two of his seasons, agonisingly missing out on the Super League final in 2018 after defeat at the hands of Warrington. That was one tough moment in a period of success for the Saints, with these four matches the crowning glory of his achievements.
Warrington Wolves 14 St Helens 34
Three tries in six second-half minutes sent Saints’ fans home happy against rivals Warrington, providing some joy ahead off their semi-final clash a few weeks later.
Warrington would get the last laugh, winning 13-18 in their semi-final, but the Saints had plenty to cheer for as Danny Richardson claimed a personal tally of 14 points and Ben Barba snatched two tries.
Although it led to heartbreak a couple of weeks later, it gave St Helens fans their first taste of what was to follow.
Wigan Warriors 10 St Helens 36
Holbrook revealed in an interview that he particularly enjoyed this Good Friday win over their bitter rivals. The six-try victory was made even sweeter with it being their first Good Friday victory over Wigan for 11 years.
Welsh winger Regan Grace was the star of the show, grabbing three tries adding to James Roby’s early opener.
It ensured Saints completed a double over Wigan, having beaten them 22-12 at Langtree Park earlier in the season.
St Helens 40 Wigan Warriors 10
This result was a disaster for Wigan, the reigning champions, as they were brushed aside in the semi-final and consigned to the play-off against Salford. Wigan Today described it as a crushing blow and it ensured St Helens went into their first final since 2014.
Theo Fages, Kevin Naiqama, Luke Thompson and Jonny Lomax all got first half tries to blow Wigan away, with Zeb Taia and a Mark Percival double completing the rout. Wigan would go on to lose to Salford, setting up Holbrook’s last game in charge.
St Helens 23 Salford Red Devils 6
It was the crowning moment of Holbrook’s reign, St Helens finally clawing back a Super League Grand Final win. Salford seemed destined for relegation in February, but bravely battled through to the final and hoped for a shock; there wasn’t one.
Morgan Knowles, Zeb Taia and Mark Percival scored the tries as the classy Saints gave their coach a send-off to remember.
“We’ve fallen short a couple of times,” Holbrook told The Times. “I’m so happy we’ve finally got what we’ve worked so hard for. I love the club, from the day I arrived everyone has been brilliant.”