The head coach of Super League side St Helens and the Tongan national team Kristian Woolf has confirmed he will return to Australia after the current English season and World Cup after three years in charge of the Saints.

Woolf is returning to Queensland, where it’s believed he’ll take up an assistant role alongside Wayne Bennett at the Dolphins for 2023 – with an eventual view to taking the head coaching reins in 2025.

“This has not been an easy decision for myself or my family, but it’s time for us to return home,” Woolf said in a release via the club.

“We made the decision a little while ago due to personal factors… The timing has also combined with an opportunity that has arisen in Australia.

“I have been here for three years and loved every minute of it. I love the club and what it has provided for me and my family. The fans have been great with me, the passion they show and the way they support the club is terrific.

“They have made my family feel at home and have welcomed us into the community and on behalf of my family I want to thank them for that.

“It has been a privilege to work with this exceptional group of men who are all extremely driven and worked so hard to achieve the success they have.

“What I love about them is how they compete and have a relentless attitude every week. That is extremely hard to say goodbye to.”

The feeling was clearly mutual, with St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus effusive in his praise of Woolf.

“Kristian has been phenomenal for St Helens for the last three years in every way and at every level,” McManus said.

“He has not just been at the helm during an immensely successful time for the team, but has also imbued a deep sense of honesty, trust, commitment and hard work throughout the club. We have all benefited from his presence and personality and thank him for it.”

Woolf will return home at the conclusion of Tonga’s World Cup campaign.