Super League coach wants review into number of games played

James Gordon

St Helens coach Kristian Woolf says that the number of games that the top players are required to play needs to be looked at.

The three-peat champions will enter the 2022 season on the back of one pre-season game, Alex Walmsley’s testimonial against Leigh on Friday.

Woolf says that is a conscious decision due to the hectic domestic calendar, as well as the end of year World Cup.

He said: “To be honest, I’d be happy to go without any pre-season games. One thing we need to look at some stage is how many games we play and how many we play with short turnarounds.

“It’s certainly going to be a challenging year if teams have the success they want to have. If you play every game in the Challenge Cup and play through to the Grand Final, you’re playing 33 or 34 games and you can throw in internationals.

“If England were to have success in the World Cup, you’ve got players looking at playing up to 42 games in a year, which is realistically way too many.

“We think by giving our players a little bit less at the start of the year and looking after them a bit more, when those big games come around, we’re going to have them fresh and healthy.”

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Number of games

St Helens played 27 competitive games in a COVID impacted 2021 campaign, as Kristian Woolf led them to a third straight title.

They had a number of games postponed by the opposition, though this carries a 48-0 forfeit punishment in 2022.

Despite criticism, the loop fixtures remain in Super League, including Magic Weekend.

That means each team has 27 scheduled fixtures, as well as at least one Challenge Cup tie.

St Helens kick-off the Super League season at home to Catalans on February 10.

This year’s Grand Final is scheduled some 226 days later on September 24.

The World Cup is due to kick off on October 15, with the final at Old Trafford on November 19.