KRISTIAN Woolf has been confirmed as Saints’ new head coach after signing a two-year deal to succeed Justin Holbrook at the end of the season.

The current interim head coach at Newcastle Knights will officially take up his position at Saints on 1 November to prepare for the 2020 Super League season.

Saints scoured the rugby league world and looked at a range of candidates before appointing the 44-year-old Woolf, with the club having an option to extend his term to a third year.

Tonga’s popular national coach for the past five seasons, Woolf expressed his excitement to be joining a club of Saints’ stature and history.

He 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.”

St Helens Star:

Woolf started the year as assistant coach at Newcastle Knights, stepping up into the head coach’s role following the departure of former Saints boss Nathan Brown.

At international level in five years Woolf improved Tonga’s world ranking from 14th to fourth, guiding them to the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2017 where they came within two points of England.

They had famously defeated New Zealand along the way - the first time that a tier-two team had defeated a tier-one team.

Woolf’s 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.

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.”