NEW signing Konrad Hurrell knows there is plenty of talent in front of him at Saints - but he has fixed his sights firmly on proving coach Kristian Woolf right and that on his day he is a world class centre.

The Tongan international has teamed up with his national coach after spending three years at Leeds Rhinos – and explained that Woolf’s faith in him plus the lure of the winning environment was just too good an opportunity to miss.

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But with England international Mark Percival fixed in one centre berth, and Tonga skipper Will Hopoate earmarked to take the spot vacated by Kevin Naiqama, Hurrell knows he has plenty to do to get a shot at his favoured role.

However, it is a challenge he is keen to rise to and is getting stuck into a pre-season where his focus is not simply on fitness but a desire to tidy parts of his game.

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Hurrell said: “It is good to hear that belief from your coach, it is just up to me to work hard because I have an opportunity and just need to prove myself.

“I am not trying to prove people wrong, I just want to show that I can still show that I am the world class centre that Woolfy sees me as.

“There are a lot of players in front of me, but that is not going to stop me from trying to prove myself that I am good enough to be in the team.

“I am going to keep on pushing and when I get the opportunity to be in that starting line up, or the 17, I want to stay there as much as I can without disrespecting other players.”

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Having seen the talent in the Saints backline, the 30-year-old former New Zealand Warriors and Gold Coast Titans centre knows he will have to grab any opportunities with both hands.

“That challenge is what I am looking forward to and I am excited to try and get that spot in the team and not let anyone down,” he said.

“I have played centre my whole career but if Woolfy wants me to fit in somewhere else I will put my hands up and play there but at the moment I am focusing on trying to be the best centre in the team and hopefully the comp.

“I can do stuff that some other players can’t do but I just need to work on a lot of things that will keep me up to the pace of being the best centre.

“So I am working on the little missed tackles or dropped balls – working hard on the little things that I need to tidy up week in, week out.

“If I can do those little things I will hopefully show people what I can really do.

“Getting a full pre-season under my belt can help me be the best centre I can be and the best shape I can be for the whole of 2022.”

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There was something of a mixed reaction when Saints swooped for the Tongan World Cup centre and offered him a one-year deal.

Unplayable at times in his first two season with Leeds, especially in the game against Saints in 2019, his form dipped following a family bereavement.

Hurrell’s mum Fatafehi, passed away at the young age of 63 in June 2020. A tough situation at any time, but made even more testing by Covid lockdown and his family being 12,000 miles away in Tonga.

Hurrell, the youngest of six children, traditionally blew a kiss to his mum as part of his try celebrations.

Coming to St Helens has given him that opportunity to rekindle his form with the Three-peat champions.

It was an opportunity he was not going to let pass him by.

“When the talk of St Helens came up I wanted to be part of it, winning trophies and being in that winning environment.

“I have always wanted to be coach week-in, week-out by Woolfy and this was my opportunity and I could not let that slide.

“It has been class so far and it has been good to get to know the standards of the club as early as possible,” he said.

The Hurrellicane is a character, who Woolf believes can bring the X-Factor to the team, and he is relishing the chance of entertaining the fans.

But he knows first thing is first.

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“It is my character, being out there, but hopefully I can get into the team first adding my input to the team.

“My priority is getting into the team, being the best player I can be to earn the respect of the boys.

“But I am looking forward to meeting the fans of St Helens – they are just so into the rugby league in the town that it is crazy and I can’t wait to meet them all,” he said.

The ones he has already bumped into, have already given him the well-worn script of beating Wigan.

It may sound like a cliché now, given how often it is repeated, but Hurrell like the other new Saints recruits is excited by the chance of playing in rugby league’s biggest derby.

“I have been reminded by every St Helens person,” he said.

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“They say ‘We only want us to win two games – the Grand Final and Wigan’.

“Hopefully I get picked on Good Friday because I want to be a part of that and have heard lots about that match.

“It is going to be a hard job for the coach to pick the team – a few blokes have come in, Joey (Lussick) coming back, James Bell coming over from Leigh. We are all fighting for a spot so it is very hard to pick a squad 1-17.

“Everyone is working hard and enjoying what is going on.”

Having playing alongside him with Tonga and against him in the NRL, Hurrell know what to expect from another of Saints’ key recruits - Will Hopoate.

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“He has been playing for years; won Grand Finals, played for Australia and Origin.

“He is going to bring experience to the team – he is a great player and even off the field he is a great person and being around him is amazing.

“He is a quiet guy but the boys love him already.

“I was a bit worried because he was signed as a centre, and Mark Percival is a centre and I keep going back in the ladder.

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“Hoperfully I can find a way through there, but having Will in the team is amazing.

“Every time I have played with him with Tonga he has been class on and off the field.”

With the World Cup at the end of the year, Hurrell is in a good position to impress his national coach – Kristian Woolf.

As much as he wants to pull on that red jersey for one of the favourites for the tournament, Hurrell is not jumping too far ahead.

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“Part of the long journey for me is the World Cup, but if I perform good for St Helens there’ll be no worries for me that I won’t get picked for Tonga.

“If I am not performing here then I’m pretty sure I wont be in the Tonga team – but I won’t worry about the World Cup now.

"I have to focus on St Helens, enjoy this moment and try and get the fittest I can be and work on the little things and hopefully make the team, seal that spot and keep playing better,” he said.