'They will be backing their chances' - St Helens coach Kristian Woolf wary of Cup winners Leeds Rhinos

St Helens coach Kristian Woolf reckons winning the Coral Challenge Cup will have boosted Leeds Rhinos’ confidence.

Thursday, 22nd October 2020, 5:00 pm

Rhinos play their first game since last Saturday’s Wembley success when they take on table-topping Saints at TW Stadium on Friday.

Leeds boss Richard Agar has made a host of changes to his side, but Woolf is expecting them to come out all guns blazing.

“I thought it was a really good game of footy,” he said of Rhinos 17-16 win over Salford Red Devils.

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Kristian Woolf. Picture by Nigel French/PA

“Both teams really worked hard and tried hard, which is what made it such a close game.

“Luke Gale, as he has done a couple of times this year, showed he knows how to win games in those situations.

“It was a really good win for them.

“I expect them to back themselves off the back of that and get a little bit of confidence out of what they’ve been able to do in the Challenge Cup.

“They are in the same boat as everyone else, where they have got a lot of games to play over a short period and they are going to have to make some wins in there, but they will certainly be backing their chances.”

Woolf has named his strongest-available squad for tonight, but admitted it won’t be possible to do that for every game over the next few weeks.

“We’ve said all along - and I have certainly said to the group - to be successful in this competition this year it is a full squad effort,” he stressed.

“We are going to have to rotate players in and debut some guys.

“We have made sure we’ve introduced some young guys, to get that bit of experience and confidence and what Super League is about and how they can handle that level as well.

“There’s going to be more of that to come for us and every other club with the congested schedule that’s coming up.

“The players know exactly what’s expected and they have all handled things really well.

“They are all in a really good position so when they are called upon they are ready to go and they will certainly make the most of it.

“I am really excited about the next four weeks.”

, the challenge of short turnarounds and lots of games and knowing there’s going to be an opportunity for some young blokes to step up and not just come off the bench or play small roles, but step into roles where they are going to take charge and play a big part.

“I think the players are really excited about it and we are as a coaching staff as well.”

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Laura Collins