Woolf joins Dolphins' dream team

Published 11:30am 2 September 2022

Woolf joins Dolphins' dream team
Words by Nick Crockford

The Dolphins have snared the hottest coaching property in world rugby league with the signing of Kristian Woolf on a long-term deal.

Woolf, the current St Helens coach in the English Super League, will be the assistant to Wayne Bennett, the greatest grand final-winning coach in Australian rugby league.

It brings together a coaching dream team for the Dolphins, who will debut in the NRL in 2023.

Woolf, 47, is the man who has led the Tongan revolution in international rugby league, transforming the tiny Pacific Island nation from Test minnow into a celebrated powerhouse.

Along the way Tonga beat New Zealand and Great Britain, and then became the first Tier Two nation in 40 years to defeat the Australian Kangaroos.

Deserves opportunity

In 2020 the former Cowboys, Broncos and Knights’ assistant joined English glamour club St Helens and won the last two English Super League Grand Finals, 2021 Challenge Cup Final and 2022 English Super League minor premiership.

“Kristian has done his time as both an assistant and a head coach and done everything right to deserve this opportunity,” said Bennett.

“He has been an assistant at a couple of different NRL clubs, has been a head coach in the Queensland Cup, and has had a lot of success coaching in England over the last few years.

“Kristian has done the deal to bring his family home to Queensland and I am certain he is going to be a great asset to the Dolphins and is next in line as head coach of the club.”

Dolphins’ chief executive Terry Reader said it was no secret Woolf had significant interest from other NRL clubs as a head coach.

“There is no doubt that gaining Woolf’s signature is a significant coup for the Dolphins,” said Reader.

Top tgarget

“He has produced success wherever he goes and that has made him one of the most sought-after young coaches in rugby league.

“He is also a Queenslander, so understands the proud history and the importance of the success of the Dolphins.

“Bringing him together with Wayne Bennett gives confidence to the players we have signed to be part of our first season, and those that are considering coming to the club.

“It also gives the Dolphins great stability and a long-term plan for our coaching ranks and underlines our board’s designated model of building a club for the future, not just 2023.”

Woolf will join the Dolphins at the conclusion of Tonga’s World Cup commitments in November.

KRISTIAN WOOLF - Born July 6, 1975 (Mt Isa, Qld)

Coaching Career (CLUB)

2009- 2011: Cowboys NYC under-20s coach (Grand Finalists 2011)

2012-2014: Broncos NRL assistant coach

2015-2018: Townsville Blackhawks head coach (Grand Finalists 2015)

2019: Newcastle Knights assistant coach; interim head coach (2 matches)

2020-2022: St Helens head coach (English Super League champions 2020-21; Challenge Cup winners 2021; 2022 English Super League minor premiers)

Coaching Career (INTERNATIONAL)

2014-2022: Tonga head coach (2017 Rugby League World Cup semi-finalists; 2019 victories over Great Britain and Australian Kangaroos)


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