ST HELENS have confirmed that Kristian Woolf has signed a two-year deal to succeed Justin Holbrook as the club's new head coach.

He will officially take up the position on November 1 in time for the start of the 2020 Super League season.

Current Newcastle Knights interim head coach and former Tonga head coach Woolf, 44, is said to have beaten off strong competition which included both young, up and coming as well as experienced personnel.

Eamonn McManus, Chairman of St.Helens R.F.C. said: “We consider that Kristian is ideally qualified and placed to build upon the current success of the team and the club.

“He has the experience and expertise to bring the best out of our existing squad and to improve it further.

“We are very confident that the Saints will seriously compete for honours under his tenure and that we will continue to play attractive and exciting rugby league.”

Woolf had been an Assistant Coach at Newcastle and more recently interim Head Coach, following the departure of former Saints boss Nathan Brown.

Over his five years as coach of Tonga, Woolf improved the nation’s world ranking from 14th to 4th and guided them to the semi-finals of the World Cup back in 2017, defeating New Zealand along the way - the first time that a tier-two team had defeated a tier-one team.

His professional coaching career began in 2003, when he coached the North Queensland Cowboys Schoolboys to a Grand Final.

In 2011 he led the Cowboys' Under 20’s (NYC) to the Grand Final for the first time in their history only to lose in golden point to the New Zealand Warriors.

During that time, Woolf worked with the likes of Jason Taumalolo, Will Tupou, James Segeyaro, Kyle Feldt and Ray Thompson who all progressed to first grade rugby.

Two years later, he stepped up to become Assistant Coach of NRL side Brisbane Broncos and helped lead them to two finals in three years, before returning to North Queensland as the inaugural coach of the new Intrust Super Cup side, the Townsville Blackhawks in 2015.

In the club's first season, he led them to first place and the Grand Final.

In 2018, Woolf left his role as Blackhawks' head coach, which he held for four seasons, to take up his role with the Knights and was recently named interim Head Coach.

Woolf said: “I’m excited and privileged to be joining St Helens as Head Coach.

“It’s something I have always wanted to do and it’s a great opportunity for me.

“St Helens is a club with an amazing history and I’m confident we can achieve great things together.”