SAINTS coach Kristian Woolf has paid tribute to the players as he prepares his charges for one final push in the finale of a troubled Covid-impacted 2020 campaign.

It has been a season like no other - but fitting that Super League’s 1 v 2, the League Leaders pitted against the reigning champions, will bring the curtain down.

Woolf will be seeking to do what no coach has done since Ian Millward, also in his first term, and guide Saints to back-to-back titles.

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Hull’s empty KCOM Stadium may not be the Theatre of Dreams and will not have those red and white clad hordes roaring them on, but the prize of those rings and that Super League pot will feel even more hard-earned and deserved after this tumultuous season of sacrifice and uncertainty.

Woolf said: “It has been a tough season and a long season, with a lot of ups and downs and a lot of differences to any other season that anyone has been a part of.

“To get to the end and then get the opportunity we have this weekend is outstanding and something we are looking forward to.

“Playing in the Grand Final is a great occasion and it is something to look forward to and be really proud of.”

In Woolf’s first year in charge at Saints - the lockdown and the cancelling of the traditional Good Friday fixture meant that it was late in the campaign before he got to sample what the derby means.

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After seeing off the weakened Warriors second-string outfit, Saints went head-to-head with the old rivals in what was effectively the League Leaders Shield decider.

If all the chat and banter had not spelled out the full extent of the intensity of that feeling and rivalry, then that game at the end of October did.

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Woolf said: “I have only been here 12 months but I have learned about the rivalry really quickly – the respect that is between the two towns as well as the two teams adds to the occasion.

“It is a shame that we can’t have the 60,000 people there creating the atmosphere, but it doesn’t take away from what the game is going to be one bit.

“I think Super League deserve credit for the way they have made strong decisions and we have all got through it together and got to the back end, which is great.

“The players deserve all the credit we can give them – they are the ones who have taken the risks I suppose – in terms of going back to work when others were not.

“Then going out playing each other – and they have done that without crowds and with a lot of restrictions and things put in place – obviously for their protection.

“But that adds to the mental load and the difficulty in what is already a tough season.

“They have done that really well.

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“Without crowds, the players have gone out and played just as good a footy as they would have done with the crowds.

“They can play with the same intensity and a win and a loss means as just as much to them.

“They deserve an enormous amount of credit.

“They have shown a tremendous amount of sacrifice and discipline and kept themselves away from getting the virus at different times and locked themselves up to make sure they are all on the field and they have done a great job.”

There will be no supporters cheers at Hull, but Woolf said the players will generate their own atmosphere.

“Even though it is going to lack a bit of atmosphere we will have to create our own energy – that is something the players have become accustomed to,” he said.

"The intensity and quality of the games has not changed and that will be the same this week, that is for sure."