SAINTS have every reason to bounce into 2020 with confidence; a new coach, the same roster and the tag of champions hanging around their necks for the first time in five years.

Under new boss Kristian Woolf Saints will be looking to become back-to-back champions for the first time since 2000.

And in February they have the early season incentive of a crack at NRL top dogs Sydney Roosters as they bid to take out the World Club Challenge trophy last won in 2007.

Although, just like in 2015, Saints begin their title defence with a new man at the helm, the big difference this time is the squad.

The Grand Final team is intact, with the only recruitment being internal promotions whilst the four departures had largely already been sidelined last term.

That said, some will follow Danny Richardson’s progress at Castleford and hope that he does not return with a bite.

Woolf arrived at Saints in November with his stock as a coach sky-high after guiding Tonga to remarkable test victories over Great Britain and Australia.

Although the boots vacated by the hugely popular Justin Holbrook are big ones to fill, the 43-year-old will have identified key areas to work on to ensure Saints stay ahead of the pack.

Woolf was understandably tight-lipped on those, but it seems probable that defensively some work on the collision and its aftermath will be part of the drill.

With the ball, the team’s last tackle options could be sharpened to brace it for the challenge ahead.

And it will be a challenge; Saints know they cannot rest on any laurels with rival teams bolstering their squads.

Hull FC have led that, with former Saints Josh Jones and Adam Swift being joined by a quartet from the NRL.

Wigan, too, have recruited with last year’s Man of Steel Jackson Hastings coming in for George Williams and George Burgess heading over from the NRL.

Warrington, meanwhile, will partner Gareth Widdop with Blake Austin as they attempt to make it their year for the first time since 1955.

Team wise, the youngsters will continue to push - especially Jack Welsby - and although still young we could see scrum half Lewis Dodd get the odd chance to show his promise on the big stage.

First team wise, there will remain a huge battle for places - particularly in the pack which will be bolstered by the return of last year’s Super League Young Player of the Year Matty Lees.

The England Knights prop missed the business end of last season after suffering an horrific perforated bowel injury at Leeds in August.

James Bentley has shown some dogged determination, and no little versatility, when given a shot in 2019.

Import Joseph Paulo missed out on selection at the Grand Final, with Jack Ashworth, Kyle Amor and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook selected before him, and it will be interesting to see if Woolf can get something extra from the former NRL player.

Young rake Aaron Smith had greater opportunity to stake his claim as James Roby’s understudy last term.

His injury at Warrington may have given him a jolt, but he took his chances well whether starting or spelling, and will need to build on that as Saints finally contemplate the day when Saints’ own Mr Perpetual Motion finally slows down.

There will be some significant highlights this year, with the Roosters clash in February giving them an opportunity to expunge the memories of their routing on the last clash in 2016, and the mullering by South Sydney in 2015.

New ground will be broken in May, when Saints play in Toronto for the first time.

They will have already played Sonny Bill Williams’s side in London (29 February ) by then.

This season also sees a return to Newcastle for Magic and the Challenge Cup Final brought forward to 18 July.