Kristian Woolf opens up on decision to leave Saints & Dolphins opportunity

Kristian Woolf James Roby St Helens League Leaders' Shield SWpix
Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

Kristian Woolf has revealed just how hard it was to notify St Helens he would be leaving and says his opportunity with the Dolphins was too good to refuse.

The Australian will return home to Queensland at the end of the season after three years in England with Super League champions St Helens.

Woolf has landed a role with the Dolphins, who will play their inaugural season in the NRL in 2023. He will assist former England coach Wayne Bennett before succeeding him as head coach.

And Woolf, who is hoping to leave Saints with three Grand Final wins from as many attempts, has lifted the lid on just how difficult it was to tell his players he would be leaving.

“We decided as a family a couple of months ago that it was the right time to go home,” Woolf said.

“The hardest part was having to stand in front of the playing group and tell them that I wasn’t going to be a part of them anymore.

“I’ve got enormous respect for the playing group and it was really tough. I’m not an emotional person but it was a difficult thing to do and I felt extremely emotional.

“It was something I put off for a few weeks to be honest. I had the opportunity to tell them a couple of times but no time felt like the right time.

“Eventually I knew I had to stop stringing them along and go on and do it. It was a tough thing to do but relieving at the same time. The support and understanding they gave me was another demonstration of them as people.”

Kristian Woolf relishing NRL opportunity with the Dolphins

Woolf will link up with the Dolphins after coaching Tonga at the World Cup, which is hosted in England this autumn.

It was thought that Woolf was a man in demand among a host of clubs Down Under. In addition, he says he was lured to Redcliffe by the chance to work alongside legendary coach Bennett.

“It was a matter of looking at the opportunities that were in Australia and figure out which one of them was the best in terms of my career,” Woolf said.

“I had conversations with different people but Redcliffe was the right one. It’s very well resourced, there’s a massive junior base and a massive area to build on.

“Working with Wayne was a big part of that as well. I’ve learned a helluva lot as a coach over here, it’s made me a better coach. Going over and doing a couple of years with Wayne; and then being able to succeed him is obviously a terrific opportunity.”

St Helens are just 80 minutes away from Old Trafford. Woolf’s men face Salford in the semi-finals at home on Saturday afternoon.

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About Drew Darbyshire 8316 Articles
Love Rugby League Deputy Editor. Joined the site ahead of the 2017 World Cup and been a full-time reporter since 2018.

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