St Helens head coach Paul Wellens says he is pleased to be working alongside Kristian Woolf again after accepting a coaching role with Tonga.
Wellens will assist former Saints head coach Woolf with the Tongan national team this autumn when they visit England for a three-match test series, as reported by Rugby League Live earlier this week.
Woolf guided St Helens to three consecutive Super League titles during his three seasons in England with Wellens as his assistant.
Woolf departed the Saints at the end of last season to return to Australia and to take up a role with the Dolphins in the NRL as an assistant to Wayne Bennett, with Wellens then taking the head coaching reins at hometown club St Helens.
And this autumn will see Woolf and Wellens reunite when they lead Tonga in a three-match test series against England, with the opening game taking place at the Totally Wicked Stadium in St Helens on Sunday, October 22.
Paul Wellens on ‘exciting’ opportunity with Tonga and Kristian Woolf reunion
Wellens says the opportunity to work with Tonga appealed to him for a number of reasons: from getting to work alongside Woolf again to cultural learning with the Tongan national team.
“I’m pleased to work alongside Woolfy again,” Wellens said when asked about his role with Tonga.
“We started out as work colleagues just over three years ago at the club but not only over that period were we work colleagues – he’s someone I consider a close friend.
“When he offered me the opportunity to work with him again I did think long and hard about it and the different challenges it presents but also one of the factors why I’ve decided to do it was to work with Kristian again and the other side of it as well is to do something a bit different and something that’s exciting.
“Having worked with a number of Tonga players within our (Saints) squad, I know how much Tonga means to them so there’s a number of reasons.
“It’s one that I’m looking forward to but at the same time I’m not getting too caught up in it at this moment in time because all my energy and focus is into St Helens and what we need to be doing to perform well to achieve our goals at the end of the season.”
England host Tonga in a three-match test series this autumn, with the games being held in St Helens, Huddersfield and Leeds.