Yates’ Verdict: There is one evident successor to St Helens head coach Kristian Woolf

The future of head coach Kristian Woolf is being kept under wraps amid reports of a possible return to Australia.

<p>Kristian Woolf</p>

Kristian Woolf

A great deal of pressure is being placed on Saints’ skipper James Roby to postpone his retirement plans for another 12 months while at the same time the future of head coach Kristian Woolf is being kept under wraps.

Both their current deals are due to expire at the back end of the year.

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Roby is set to hang up his boots after 18 years’ service to his one and only senior club and there are hints that the trophy-winning Aussie coach Woolf is on the verge of returning to his native country to enhance his already successful career.

Quite rightly, 46-year-old Woolf is reluctant to speak about where his future lies and insists he will be totally focused this year on one thing alone - lifting more silverware at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

Kristian Woolf

It’s a case of one job at a time, but the most intriguing question fans are already asking is: who will replace the Tonga international coach if he moves on at the end of the year?

No doubt Woolf will have already discussed the matter with owner and chairman Eamonn McManus, who since taking over the hot seat in the early part of the new Millennium, has more often than not turned to coaches from Down Under to keep Saints at the top of the Super League tree and let’s face it the majority have done an excellent job.

I have no idea what Eamonn’s long-term plans involve as far as appointing a new coach are concerned, but he will no doubt have something up his sleeve.

Not too many years ago, clubs were obsessed by the thought of recruiting overseas coaches, but it is interesting to note, if you take a glance at the current crop working in the 12-strong Betfred Super League, that half are of British origin.

It was seven until Richard Agar was replaced at Leeds Rhinos in March by Aussie Rohan Smith.

That’s why I feel one day in the not too distant future current assistant coach Paul Wellens, who has spent his entire career at the club, will be handed the top job.

The 42-year-old Great Britain and England international full back, who played 495 times for the Saints and collected a whole host of personal accolades, joined the backroom team as a player performance manager, working with the Academy and then the Reserves.

He is now gaining international experience in a similar kind of role as a member of England head coach Shaun Wane’s international set-up as they prepare for the World Cup later this year.

A good enough CV to eventually rule the roost at St Helens?