AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 19: Tongan coach Kristian Woolf during the Tonga Captain's Run at Mt Smart Stadium on October 19, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

St Helens coach Kristian Woolf has spoken on a potential return to coaching in the NRL, with the Tonga coach having his contract with the Saints expire at season's end.

Woolf is among an extensive list of potential candidates Canterbury could consider to replace the departed Trent Barrett, with the Bulldogs set to begin the process to find their now ex-coach's successor.

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Ex-NRL coaches Shane Flanagan and Paul Green have also been linked to the Belmore job, with Woolf seen as a chance to land his first permanent senior coaching position in the NRL as the race begins.

The Mount Isa native has enjoyed a dominant stint with St Helens since joining the Super League club ahead of the 2020 season, having claimed silverware in the past two years.

Having plied his trade with the Saints and Tonga, recording a 9-6 record with the nation, Woolf has forged an impressive CV for a coach untried in the NRL.

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The 46-year-old is anticipated to be in the Bulldogs' sights as they begin their search for a new senior coach, who will take over the reins ahead of the 2023 season as Mick Potter steps in as caretaker coach for the remainder of the NRL season.

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Speaking with theĀ St Helens Star, Woolf noted he is aware of speculation linking his services to a return down under however highlighted his commitments to the Merseyside club.

"It is not something that is cemented just yet," Woolf said when asked on his coaching future.

"My commitment is 100 per cent in St Helens and what we are doing here.

"I do understand there is speculation out there and things happening in Australia, but for me to be worried about that would mean that I would not be showing respect to this playing group and where we sit in the competition right now and what we have the ability to achieve.

"That is where my focus is and my attention is, 100 per cent with this group of players.

"I thoroughly believe we can achieve something really special here this year and know we have a playing group that is capable of that.

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"We have had some hardship, some injuries and have lost some for the season, but I still have faith in what this group can achieve.

"That is where all my energy and all my focus is going to go."

Woolf stepped into a two-game interim stint as Newcastle's senior coach in 2019 following Nathan Brown's decision to step down from the position.

He has also held coaching roles with the Broncos, Cowboys and Queensland Cup side the Townsville Blackhawks.