ANOTHER tough campaign ahead.

That is the view of Saints coach Kristian Woolf as he surveyed the 2021 Betfred Super League fixture list - which includes a couple of Easter-type back-to-back weekends.

The season has been trimmed, slightly, to 25 games due to the later start and then being boxed in by the autumn’s World Cup.

That schedule has meant that big games against Wigan and Warrington, in July and August respectively, come as the second match within a four-day weekend period.

All teams will be in the same boat - with the gruelling nature of the competition meaning that it will once again test the whole squads of the competing clubs.

Woolf said: “My first impression of the draw is that it is going to be another really tough year.

“The positives for the start of the year are that there are some pretty normal turnarounds – five-to-seven days – which allows players the recovery time they are used to.

“You expect players to be at their best on that sort of turnaround.

“It becomes really difficult around June and July when there are some really short turnarounds and some midweek games and some periods there where we are going to be asking our players to play up to five games in 20 days.

“It is difficult and unreasonable in some aspects and that is when your squad becomes really important.”

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A big factor in determining how Saints will tackle the situation will depend on the fitness of the top squad at that time.

But, as was shown by the game at Salford last year, Woolf is not afraid to rotate in the youngsters to make it a group effort and preserve and protect his seniors.

“As we did last year, there will be times when we will have to make sure we don’t double people up because you are putting them at too much risk,” Woolf said.

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“That means that some of our young guys will get opportunities and we will ask them to go out there and play like Saints players and win some games for us.

“That is the challenge the draw presents and we are going to have to navigate our way through that.”

Some of those weekends are particularly tough - and could have a big bearing on the top positions.

That will present a double challenge for Woolf and the players.

“There are a couple of big games around those short turnarounds and we have to be smart how we manage the squad,” he said.

“The expectation of throwing out your best team out every week on three-day turnarounds is completely unreasonable.

“Last year our full squad got us through the year to put us in a good position to try and win things at the end of the year that is what we have to do again.”

Woolf understands the difficulties for the organisers, given what has been thrown at the game during Covid.

“It is a tough one for everyone and I sympathise with the organisers.

“Last year finished late and pushed everything back – and this year we have the World Cup at the end of the year which limits our flexibility in terms of how long we can drag the season out.

“It is a tough one for them, but the ones that always get put under the most pressure is the players.

“A five-day turnaround is the shortest and most reasonable that you should expect between games.

“I understand it is difficult – and personally would have liked us to play a couple fewer games.

“But at the end of the day I understand that there are other reasons as to why that is not the case.”