KRISTIAN Woolf is relishing the opportunity of driving champions Saints forward in the face of the new challenges they will face in 2020.

Although not planning wholesale changes, he has highlighted some parts of the Saints attack and defence that needs work.

After two weeks at the helm, he sees some similarities between the character of the Tongan national team he has helped propel from 14th to fourth in the world rankings and the Super League top dogs.

And he will bring the style of coaching that has succeeded with his international grouping to Super League.

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He said: “The Tongans are a terrific group of players on the field and off it and I really enjoy being part of that group and I hope they enjoy what I bring as a coach.

“My personality can’t change – so I am going to be the same person for St Helens.

“I see a lot of similarities between Saints and the Tongan players, who have a real drive to be the best in the world and a drive to represent their people.

“For that reason they want to work hard and get better – that is what I try to help them do.

“I see similarities in the mindset of the St Helens players so far.

“I want to give them the opportunity for them to drive to be their best and achieve what they can achieve.

“I have got no doubt I will enjoy my time here.”

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His first impressions of the staff, players and facilities have been positive.

The first team squad, bar those handful of players on international duty with Great Britain, Fiji and the Cook Islands, have returned to training.

And Woolf has not detected any talk of dwelling on last year, rather a focus on what is ahead.

He said: “There is a good work ethic here and a real energy about them and they are all really willing to take on new things.

“It’s been a great start and the players have been similar.

“They have a real desire to want to work hard and take on new challenges and things.

“There is a real attitude to want to win – and if you have got those things you certainly start with a real good chance so it is up to me to make sure we put things in place that is going to help them do that.

“They have to reflect on the hard work that they are going to put in,” he said.

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With Saints taking out the League Leaders Shield and the Grand Final, and Woolf bossing Tonga to victories over tier one nations Great Britain and Australia, both parties will feel positive.

However, Woolf said there is no sign of laurels being rested upon.

“My first impression is that they are well over the Grand Final and are just wanting to get into this season,” he said.

“If there is some aftermath of winning that Grand Final I haven’t seen that yet, so that tells me it is not there.

“I have been really impressed with them.

READ: First Q&A with Kristian Woolf>

“We have not got the whole squad back yet, we still have the GB boys, plus Kevin Naiqama from Fiji, yet to return.

“When there are key players they are going to be big drivers of the mood of the place – but there is no hangover there.

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“They are just showing a real willingness to evolve their game and get back to work.”

The champions tag will motivate the opposition, but that is something Woolf anticipates.

“The challenge for us is every other team in the comp is going to get better.

“We have to find ways to be better and that means we have to evolve our game in different ways – that is with and without the ball. That is what we are working on at the moment,” he said.