Yates' view: St Helens' love affair with overseas coaches continues

Daniel Anderson
Daniel Anderson

Saints' love affair with Australians when it comes to appointing head coaches goes on almost unabated.

Kristian Woolf, who signed a two-year deal last week to replace fellow countryman Justin Holbrook at the end of the current season, will be the eighth Antipodean to take over the reins at the club since the advent of summer rugby in 1996 and the British game going fully professional.

Shaun McRae set the ball rolling, steering St Helens to the league and cup double 23 years ago, and while not all of his Aussie counter parts have managed to pick up a major piece of silverware, the vast majority left their mark on the club in terms of success, including Ian 'Basil' Millward who led Saints to glory in the World Club Challenge, the Super League and Challenge Cup and 2014 Old Trafford winner Nathan Brown..

But no one has come remotely close to replicating the achievements of Daniel Anderson. He not only won a plethora of trophies between May 2005 and October 2008, but collected what many had believed would never have been awarded to a Rugby League club - the 2006 BBC Sports Team of the Year.

The only other Antipodean to hold the club coaching reins was Mike McClennan, who was in charge between February 1990 and December 1993 during the pre-Super League era and was at the helm when Saints were beaten 13-8 in the 1991 Challenge Cup Final by neighbours Wigan.

The New Zealander also enjoyed Premiership Final and Lancashire Cup triumphs during an often volatile spell in charge at Knowsley Road and on one occasion hurled a pint of beer from an open window in the club's restaurant at disgruntled fans!

I doubt whether there will be a repeat performance when Woolf arrives - but it's a sobering thought to see the challenge he faces in keeping Saints to the forefront of the 13-a-side sport.