Tonga superstar Jason Taumalolo is in awe of his coach Kristian Woolf, and has not been surprised by the Australian’s stunning success at Super League champions St Helens.
Woolf will head to the NRL after the World Cup to work with Wayne Bennett at The Dolphins, having won three Super League Grand Finals in his three years with Saints.
“I’ve known Woolfy for a long time,” said Taumalolo in an exclusive interview with Love Rugby League, revealing how the nation’s head coach loves to explore his passion for boxing.
“He used to beat me up in pre-season with the Cowboys! He used to make me do extra boxing with him. He’s a great guy and he really knows his stuff. It’s great that he came over here and found some success at St Helens.
“To watch him grow, not just as a person but as a coach, has been great. He has been part of my journey in rugby league so to watch him go from being a school teacher, to an Under-20s to a Super League-winning coach, is great. I love watching him succeed.”
Kristian Woolf the boxer
Woolf has said the plan at the Dolphins is to work alongside Bennett before eventually taking on the main job, with Bennett himself having tipped the departing Saints boss to rise to the very top of the coaching ladder.
But what is he like in the boxing ring?
“He always tried to pick on the bigger boys!” Taumalolo adds of his time with Woolf at the North Queensland Cowboys.
“We had this thing called fat club in pre-season and Woolfy always put my name in there first. We did some rowing, biking and treadmill and then we’d throw on the mitts and do our best!
“He throws them alright but it’s a few years down now. He’s a little bit older and slow so it gives me more chances of being able to hit him and dodge him!”