St Helens chief executive Mike Rush believes keeping the squad together has been the key to the club’s continued success following their record-breaking fourth successive Grand Final victory.
The Saints defeated Leeds Rhinos 24-12 at Old Trafford on Saturday to become the first-ever side to win four Grand Finals in a row.
It takes their total to nine title wins, and was a fitting farewell for departing head coach Kristian Woolf. The 47-year-old will return to Australia as assistant coach to the Dolphins for the 2023 NRL season under boss Wayne Bennett.
Chief Rush praised the spirit of his St Helens side, paying tribute to the players for sticking together across the years.
“They’re a fantastic group of players, led by a fantastic coach, started by another great coach in Justin Holbrook,” said Rush.
“Fortunately we’ve been able to be on the right end of a few Grand Finals when previously we weren’t able to.
“Like all the great teams, you need that unity and team spirit and they all buy into that.
“They could probably earn more money elsewhere but collectively they’ve had to take a little bit less if they want to stay together.
“I suppose that’s the power of the salary cap and what it’s meant to do. It’s testament to these players that they buy into that and make sure we can keep this squad together.”
Mike Rush pays tribute to departing Regan Grace
The Totally Wicked Stadium side will also be without Regan Grace for the 2023 campaign. The Wales international winger will make the code switch with French rugby union side Racing 92 upon the expiry of his contract.
Grace, 25, has been forced to watch the back-end of the season from the sideline due to a ruptured Achilles. His last game came against Salford at the AJ Bell Stadium in July.
“It’s really sad that Regan is going because he is one of our own,” Rush added.
“We wish him all the best in France and hope one day he comes back.
“We’ve got a pretty settled squad. Everybody else has re-signed, but there is a little bit of space if we can find the right player that’s going to complement this group, although not having a quota spot makes it that little bit more difficult.”