Krisitian Woolf says he’s leaving ‘best team in Super League era’ after St Helens win Grand Final

Saints secured their place in history and rubber-stamped their status as the most successful team in the Super League era with a fourth consecutive Grand Final triumph.

<p>St Helens head coach Kristian Woolf holds the Betfred Super League Grand Final Trophy. Image: Michael Steele/Getty Images</p>

St Helens head coach Kristian Woolf holds the Betfred Super League Grand Final Trophy. Image: Michael Steele/Getty Images

Kristian Woolf hailed an unprecedented fourth consecutive Grand Final triumph after St Helens delivered their departing coach a victorious send-off at Old Trafford.

Saints dominated Leeds Rhinos to seal a 24-12 win and end a remarkable domestic era for Woolf, who will now leave the club to take up a coaching opportunity in his native Australia.

Woolf believes the nature of Saints’ success this season confirms their status as the best team since the inauguration of Super League and the play-of era 25 years ago.

"In my mind you can’t compare eras in terms of squad strength or players, but what you can do is compare results and that’s evidence that there’s no doubt in my mind that this is the best team in the Super League era," said Woolf.

"I’m just extremely proud. This is an outstanding group of men and to win four in a row, sometimes I don’t think it gets enough credit because people don’t realise how hard it is.

"It has had to have that same hunger and drive to get through the adversity that every season tosses up, and still put yourself at the top of the table and give yourself an opportunity to reach another Grand Final."

Woolf identified his side’s start to the second half as the crucial phase of the game after the Rhinos had given themselves hope of edging their way back into the match through Kruise Leeming’s try on the stroke of the hooter.

James Roby of St Helens celebrates with the Betfred Super League Grand Final trophy. Image: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

But Saints immediately responded and Konrad Hurrell capped a superb individual performance by wrestling his way over the line and giving his side back the momentum.

"Quite often a try just before half-time gives one team confidence and they can go on and come from behind, but our first set in the second half really set the tone in terms of how we’re going to go about them," added Woolf.

"I was really proud of Konrad today and really happy that he scored a try that only a bloke like Konrad can score - he’s such a powerful bloke and so hard to stop when he gets over the line."

Leeds coach Rohan Smith admitted his team were well beaten but said he would take pride in his side’s extraordinary journey in the second half of the Super League season.

When Smith took over in April his side were still flirting with relegation from the top flight and the prospect of a place in the play-offs was a distant one.

Smith said: "I couldn’t be prouder of the staff and the players for the way we’ve pulled together and done some great things.

"The way people have stuck together and galvanised is really commendable. There’s worse places to be than here tonight but at the same time everybody’s hurting because you’re here to win it."

Smith alluded to a series of minor errors that allowed Saints to seize the initiative via Matty Lees’ early opener, and it was one the favourites never looked likely to squander.

"We were the second best team tonight," added Smith. "We weren’t as cohesive as we wanted to be at times, particularly for their first try when we had a poor moment and they scored.

"When the time is right we will reflect on the journey. We will never go on a journey like that one again. Getting to know people whilst adversity is front and centre for so long is the best way to get to know people - in the trenches to try to bring about change and flout expectation.

"There’s no right words for some of those guys. They are all disappointed because we thought we could do it. But I’ve also been reminded that if you want to taste the success and hold the trophy you’ve got to be prepared to feel ordinary in defeat.

"You’ve got to be prepared to risk to win big, and that’s where we are today."