St Helens have confirmed that Kristian Woolf has signed a deal to succeed Justin Holbrook as the club’s new head coach.
Woolf will officially take up the position on November 1 in time for the start of the 2020 Super League season.
After an extensive search from across the world, Woolf has beaten off strong competition which included both young, up and coming as well as experienced personnel.
He has signed a two year deal at the Saints, with the club having an option to extend his contract by a further year.
Saints chairman Eamonn McManus said: “We consider that Kristian is ideally qualified and placed to build upon the current success of the team and the club.
“He has the experience and expertise to bring the best out of our existing squad and to improve it further.
“We are very confident that the Saints will seriously compete for honours under his tenure and that we will continue to play attractive and exciting rugby league.”
Woolf, 44, will arrive at the Saints from NRL side, Newcastle Knights where he had been an assistant coach, and more recently interim head coach, following the departure of former Saint Nathan Brown.
Over his five years as coach of Tonga, Woolf improved the nation’s world ranking from 14th to fourth and guided them to the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2017, defeating New Zealand along the way - the first time that a tier-two team had defeated a tier-one team.
His professional coaching career began in 2003, where he coached the North Queensland Cowboys Schoolboys to a Grand Final. He returned to the Cowboys and in 2011 he led the Under 20’s (NYC) to the Grand Final for the first time in their history only to lose in golden point to the New Zealand Warriors.
During that time, Woolf worked with the likes of Jason Taumalolo, Will Tupou, James Segeyaro, Kyle Feldt and Ray Thompson who all progressed to first grade rugby.
Two years later, he stepped up to become Assistant Coach of NRL side Brisbane Broncos and helped lead them to two finals in three years, before returning to North Queensland as the inaugural coach of the new Intrust Super Cup side, the Townsville Blackhawks in 2015. In the club's first season, he led them to first place and the Grand Final.
In 2018, Woolf left his role as Blackhawks' head coach, which he held for four seasons, to take up his role with the Knights and was recently named interim Head Coach.
Kristian Woolf said: “I’m excited and privileged to be joining St Helens as Head Coach.
“It’s something I have always wanted to do and it’s a great opportunity for me.
“St Helens is a club with an amazing history and I’m confident we can achieve great things together.”