'We'll have to be at our best to beat Leeds Rhinos' - St Helens boss Kristian Woolf expects tough Challenge Cup battle

Coach Kristian Woolf expects today’s Betfred Challenge Cup tie to bring the best out of his St Helens players - and reckons they will be in trouble if it doesn’t.

Friday, 9th April 2021, 4:45 pm

Drawing Leeds Rhinos the Cup holders, in the third round created a “real air of excitement” among Saints’ squad, according to Woolf, but also the extra tension and pressure of a knockout game.

“The excitement of a big game certainly brings the best out of everyone,” Woolf said.

“We need to be at our best because we are playing the Challenge Cup champions.

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St Helens coach Kristian Woolf. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

“We know what sort of game it is going to be and if we don’t get it right, we’ll not be playing in the next round.”

Woolf is in his second season at Saints and fully aware of how much the Challenge Cup means to the club, who have not won it since 2008. He stated: “It is a big competition and it’s not lost on us, the fact we haven’t had success for a long time.

“We’d love to have some success. It is a bit more do or die [than Super League] and you understand if you get it wrong you are no longer in the competition.

“That adds a little layer of pressure for everyone, that’s not just us.

“It adds some tension and pressure to the occasion and that’s something else you have to deal with.”

Saints are on a six-match winning run against Leeds, who last beat them in March, 2018.

“It’s a really exciting game,” Woolf added. “As soon as the draw was made there was a real excitement in the air among the players and I am sure the Leeds players felt exactly the same.

“It’s one you’d usually think will come around a bit later in the competition, but we can’t wait for the game. We are definitely ready and I’ve been happy with how we’ve performed over the past couple of weeks.”

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