SAINTS are using February’s showpiece fixture with NRL giants Sydney Roosters as a huge short-term incentive to fuel their pre-season drive to be world class.

The World Club Challenge fixture will ensure Saints will hit the ground running without distorting new coach Kristian Woolf’s long term objectives for the season ahead.

That early piece of silverware is a huge carrot for a team aiming to be top of the world for the first time since 2007.

Woolf said: “We have a good short term goal - not something we want to do over the course of a season - but something that can be achieved early in the season.

“The Roosters game gives us that little bit more motivation to work a bit harder.

“We want to compete and give ourselves a real good chance of winning against the best team in the world, so our pre-season is about being World class in everything we do.”

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That game takes place on at Saints on Saturday, 22 February, but prior to that they will have three tough Super League games with a home Grand Final repeat against Salford followed by tough aways at Warrington and Hull.

Woolf has had his squad working on the full range of fitness and skill work as they prepare to defend their Super League crown in 2020.

He has been impressed with the way his crop have approached their task.

“The blokes are working hard and doing everything asked of them, with a really good attention to detail and a willingness to work,” he said.

“There is a lot to work with.

“There is a good work ethic and drive to work hard, listen and learn.

“If you have those couple of things then you have a group that is going to improve and take challenges on.

“That is exactly what this group is.

“We have had a successful year off the back of it and a really good chance of success again because of it.”

Woolf has identified some aspects of both Saints’ defence and attack that needs improvement, and work on those dovetails with the obligatory gym work.

“We have done a bit of everything so far - in pre-season you want to get fitter, faster, stronger and more skilful.

“There has been a bit of work on our D and some things that will evolve our attack. Pre seasons are always busy.”

He admitted that a combination of off-season surgeries and international duty has meant that he has yet to have his full complement of players - but anticipates being close to full strength just after Christmas.

“We have had a little bit of a disruptive pre-season in that sense and will continue to be on the back of a number of guys having surgery and some others having lengthy representative seasons as well.

We are not quite back to everyone training yet and full strength, but just after Christmas we will get closer and closer,” he said.