St Helens coach hails “special” group of players

Kristian Woolf

St Helens coach Kristian Woolf says it would be “absolutely unbelievable” to win a third successive Grand Final.

The reigning champions reached a record-extending 13th Grand Final thanks to an emphatic 36-8 win over Leeds that sets up an Old Trafford meeting next Saturday with Catalans Dragons.

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Centre Mark Percival and winger Regan Grace scored two tries apiece. Kevin Naiqama was also among the scorers on his final home appearance as he prepares to return home to Australia.

Woolf mastered a successful title defence in his first season with Saints in 2020. He says it would be special if they could match the feat of Leeds, who won three Grand Finals in a row from 2007-09.

Special bunch of players

“It would be absolutely unbelievable,” Woolf said. “In today’s era, you have to invest so much energy and emotional effort and so much sacrifice to win a competition and to win it twice is incredible because you’ve got to get yourself up and go and do that again.

“This group of men is so special. This town needs to be really proud of them for the hunger they have shown to put themselves in this position, it’s absolutely outstanding.

“They’ve put themselves in a position where they can go on and achieve something special. But it’s certainly not done yet.”

Saints suffered an injury scare when utility player Jack Welsby, the last-gasp hero of last year’s Grand Final win over Wigan, went off with a shoulder injury on 53 minutes but he was able to return and Woolf is confident he will be fit for Old Trafford.

“I was worried when he came off because he’s a tough kid and he doesn’t come off,” he said. “But he looks like he’s fine.

“He was in a bit of pain. But I think he would have to be pretty broken to not play next week. I’m pretty confident he’ll be there.”