Super League: St Helens' Kristian Woolf expects 'six again' to help playmakers thrive


Kristian Woolf
Kristian Woolf succeeded Justin Holbrook as St Helens coach at the end of the 2019 season

St Helens head coach Kristian Woolf expects the new “six again” call in Super League to have a positive impact for the game’s attacking playmakers.

The introduction of reset tackle counts instead of awarding penalties that halt the flow of a game puts extra pressure on defences to stem attacking flow.

Metres-run stats and ball-in-play time have all increased in Australia’s NRL since its introduction in May.

“If you play in key positions, I think the rule really suits,” Woolf said.

“I think your nine [hooker], six, seven [halves] and one [full-back], in general, are going to enjoy the fact they’ll get a little bit more freedom around the ruck and speed of the play-the-ball and a bit more fatigue in defence.

“In the NRL it’s certainly brought those players into the game and they’re the ones standing out at the moment.”

Saints will be among the first four teams to get a matchday look at the new laws – which also include the temporary scrapping of scrums – when they face Catalans Dragons in Sunday’s first Super League games since March as part of a double-header at Headingley.

New signing, the returning James Graham, played under the new regulations at St George Illawarra before his move back to Saints after a nine-year absence.

“It’s a big difference,” Woolf added. “We’re a bit lucky in that we’ve got James who’s come in from playing under those rules and conditions, and has been able to give us some invaluable feedback about what he thinks are the things we need to cope with and how to handle different scenarios.”

The last game before the season was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic was a 28-14 defeat for Saints at Castleford.

It was a third loss of the season, the same number that the reigning champions lost in the whole of the 2019 regular campaign.

Woolf believes the stresses of the World Club Challenge, in which Saints performed heroically in defeat by NRL premiers Sydney Roosters, had taken its toll on their early-season form.

“The break for us in that sense has been really positive,” Woolf continued.

“You throw a lot into the game both physically and emotionally, I think it showed in both teams that there was some of that carry-over fatigue.

“It’s a game that takes a lot of emotional investment, you know it’s sitting there at the start of the year and you’re preparing for it even thought you’re not talking about it.”



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