KRISTIAN Woolf gave his first thoughts on Saints and St Helens when the Star’s Mike Critchley caught up with him on Tuesday.

MC: What have been your first impressions of the club?

KW: The staff have a good work ethic about them and a real energy about them and all are really willing to take on new things.

It has been a great start there 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.

MC: You mentioned tweaking some parts of defence and attack - where are those areas that need work?

KW: There are a couple of things we have identified but not the things we would make public, but they are areas in attack and when we are without the ball in terms of our defence.

The players have bought into that so far and done it really well – I would like to think by the time we get to round one we will see some subtle changes but what people know as St Helens-style footy.

St Helens Star:

MC: Often new coaches bring in personnel with them, players or on the staff. Are you comfortable coming in alone?

KW: I am very comfortable with that and obviously I did a lot of homework before I accepted the job.

A lot of that was talking to people who had been here previously. Nathan Brown was one, Willie Manu was another - I also spoke with Dave Furner who gave me some positive advice.

One thing that was made clear – and when you have a successful year it rings true – is that there are some very good people here, a very good structure and a very professional club and terrific staff, plus the playing staff is not only talented but made up of good hardworking people.

MC: What have you made of the facilities here compared to NRL?

KW: The stadium here is outstanding and as good if not better than anything in the NRL and custom built for the game and the conditions over here.

Our set up at the training facility is very good, with two options if we can’t get on the grass and a great place to do our mini skills.

We have everything here to be a world class team and my task is to make sure that everything we do in how we develop our players is to make sure we are a world class team.

St Helens Star:

MC: So do you think it is possible to combine the Saints job with the Tonga role?

KW: That is a real possibly and no reason what we can’t do it. Wayne Bennett has found a way of doing it with Souths and Great Britain, although I do realise people are not happy with the way the last tour has gone. But you can’t judge that off one tour – there have been some very successful campaigns prior to that.

Things need to be set up to make sure it is possible and people in Australia are going to have to take a much bigger workload at times, but as long as I am communicated well there and not letting anything affect what happens in St Helens I can’t see why that can’t be done.

MC: So could it work that someone assists for the mid-season tests and you carry in the Autumn and leading to the 2021 World Cup?

KW: It has not been discussed yet but we need to be open and flexible about what will work.

MC: It may be a leap ahead but it would be fantastic to get Tonga based in St Helens for the 2021 World Cup.

St Helens Star:

KW: It would be outstanding – a great fit. Both red and white.

MC: And what sort of welcome have you had in the town so far?

KW: I am really happy to be here and can tell straight away it is one that both me and my family are going to fit into.

It surprised me to see how many people have made an effort to come over and shake hands and say welcome and wish us luck. I was expecting to walk in and people not have a clue (who I was) but that has been a pleasant surprise.

The way that people have gone about that has been really nice and made it feel like it is a community that is going to embrace the family.

MC: Did you want to get to work and get things sorted at home before bringing your family over?

KW: The family are arriving on December 16.

I have done this a couple of times now, whether moving Brisbane to Townsville or Townsville to Newcastle. On those occasions my job has started earlier where I have got to move and get myself sorted in the job, but at same time make sure I have got accommodation and schools sorted and a bit set up for when the family get here.

The other side is that I have four kids, three at school and one at nursery, so they have to make sure they are getting a bit of education while we are moving.

They have to pack up houses and move houses. A lot of that falls on my wife and I suppose that is where we try to get a balance.

MC: Are they looking forward to the move?

KW: When they come over they will be a part of the community – both through school and sports club. We are looking forward to it.

My young fella likes rugby league and boxing and the town has a good history in both and he will find a place there.

My eldest daughter likes athletics and soccer so they are going to fit in.

MC: You Great Britain lads are probably going to be a bit bedraggled after a long season and a tough tour. What will you say to them?

KW: It is not what I say, but what they say.

I have to gauge how they are feeling physically and mentally. It is a fine balance and we have to make sure that mentally we give them enough time off, but are also given enough time physically to be prepared to start the year.

It is a real fine line.

When I meet with them I will assess how we can do that best. That is going to be the real challenge for us but I am confident with the staff we have here and the calibre and experience of those players we are going to get that right because they will give us the right feedback.

St Helens Star:

MC: Luke Thompson played after picking up that rib injury, what medical reports have you been getting there?

KW: We have been getting proper medical reports from Luke Thompson and our staff are right on top of that and so too are the Great Britain staff.

There are no dramas there. We understand at times you play with niggling injuries – the fine line is what you can play with that does not make it worse or what you can play that does not affect your performances.

If it its going to do either of those things then you cant play. We are comfortable with the decision GB made there and Luke was a big part of that saying he can play. The report that we have back is that it is not going to be an ongoing issue.

The medical report we have at the moment is that all of our players will be available for round one and all available for pre-season training.

When we get them all back in we will make sure that this assessment is right with our own staff.

St Helens Star:

MC: And Morgan Knowles has had surgery - will he be ok for round one?

KW: Morgan Knowles has had surgery on both shoulders. He is a bloke who is very diligent and he will rip into his rehab and be right for round one.

MC: What did you know about the players ahead of arriving?

KW: I have followed Super League from a distance and have had an interest to be involved.

Once I knew this position was becoming available I watched a lot closer and ever since I knew I was coming I watched closer still.

I am pretty familiar with the talents of the players and squad over all

The challenge for me is to find ways to evolve each player and get them better as an individual, and if we can do that to them all we will be better as a team.

MC: Every new coach is made aware of the importance of beating Wigan - how many hundreds of times has that come up?

KW: I am very familiar with that rivalry and has certainly been made clear ever since I walked in the door. I am looking forward to that opportunity too.

St Helens Star:

MC: And are you happy with the week one fixture against last year's Grand Finalists?

KW: Yes, Salford is a good challenge straight up. I get the opportunity to go up against my old Tonga mate Tui Lolohea and look forward to that.