Six potential replacements for Kristian Woolf at St Helens

Steven Hughes
Paul Wellens Josh Hannay Stephen Kearney St Helens

It was announced on Wednesday that Kristian Woolf would be leaving St Helens at the end of the season, after three seasons in charge.

During that time, he has guided St Helens to two Super League titles, one Challenge Cup, and one League Leaders Shield. There could yet be a third Super League title in there, as Saints eye a fourth title in a row overall.

Here, we take a look at six potential candidates to replace Woolf at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

Paul Wellens

Paul Wellens St Helens.jpg

A man that needs no introduction to St Helens fans. Wellens enjoyed an outstanding career as a player for St Helens, making just short of 500 appearances, scoring over 1,000 points between 1998 and 2015.

During that time, he also helped the Saints to five Super League titles, five Challenge Cups and two World Club Challenges. On an individual level, Wellens has also won the Man of Steel award, the Harry Sunderland Trophy and the Lance Todd Trophy.

Since retiring, Wellens has been on the coaching staff with St Helens. He worked his way up to an assistant coach, working under both Justin Holbrook and Woolf. This could be the time for him to take the top job at the club, and he would be a popular figure to appoint.

He previously revealed on the Love Rugby League podcast that he would like to become a Head Coach one day.

Nathan Cayless

Nathan Cayless

Nathan Cayless began his coaching career in 2016, after enjoying a 13-year career in the NRL with Parramatta Eels. He was also captain of the New Zealand side that won the Rugby League World Cup back in 2008.

The 44-year-old is currently an assistant coach at Wests Tigers, having also held a similar role at Sydney Roosters. His contract at Wests expires at the end of the year, and is currently without a club for 2023 as it stands.

His brother Jason also had a short spell with St Helens as a player between 2006 and 2009.  He was part of their treble-winning side in 2006.

Ryan Carr

Ryan Carr Hull KR

Ryan Carr is no stranger to the English game, having already been the Head Coach of Featherstone in 2019. He led them to the Million Pound Game from fifth place, but they were ultimately beaten by Toronto Wolfpack in the Million Pound Game. At the same time, he was an assistant to Richard Agar at Leeds.

Before then, he had a limited career in the NRL. He played for Wests Tigers and South Syndey Rabbitohs before being forced to retire through injury at the age of 25.

Since his return to Australia, he has been in charge of Parramatta’s New South Wales Cup side. He was recently linked with a return to Leeds for their Head Coaching role, but the job ended up going to Rohan Smith. He is another who is out of contract at Parramatta at the end of the season.

John Cartwright

John Cartwright

John Cartwright enjoyed a decent career as  a player, spending most of his time with Penrith Panthers. He also had a brief stint in the Super League with Salford.

He then went into coaching, and was Head Coach of the inaugural Gold Coast Titans side. This was a role Cartwright would hold for seven years, before resigning.

Since then, he has had several assistant coaching jobs. He was part of the North Queensland title-winning side in 2015 and has also been with Brisbane since the appointment of Kevin Walters as Head Coach. He is out of contract at the end of the year.

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Josh Hannay

Josh Hannay

The 42-year-old enjoyed a decent playing career in the NRL, having made 150 appearances for North Queensland. He briefly came over to the UK as well to play for Celtic Crusaders, though this ended in controversy, as he was one of six players kicked out of the United Kingdom after breaching visa regulations. He was banned from entering the UK for 10 years, but this ended in 2019.

After a brief stint in the Queensland Cup, Hannay went into coaching. He briefly took the reigns of North Queensland following the departure of Paul Green. He left the club after being overlooked for the role on a permanent basis. He then joined Cronulla. He got another taste of being Head Coach after John Morris left the club. He is an assistant again, but is out of contract at the end of 2022.

Stephen Kearney

Stephen Kearney

The 50-year-old was best known for his spell as a player for Melbourne Storm. He made 139 appearances, scoring 20 tries. After that spell, he played in the Super League for Hull FC, before retiring as a player.

In 2008, Kearney coached New Zealand to the 2008 Rugby League World Cup in his first Head Coach role. He would stay Head Coach of the Kiwis until 2016.

As well as his role with the Kiwis, Kearney was Head Coach of Parramatta Eels, but resigned a year later.

Kearney returned to the NRL with New Zealand Warriors. He took up the Head Coach role, and left his role with the national side at the time as well.

They finished eighth in 2018, but Kearney was sacked in 2020 after a poor start. He returned to Melbourne as an assistant, but is out of contract at the end of the year.

READ MOREKristian Woolf to leave St Helens at the end of season