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Thread: 21 man squad v Hull KR

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    It's very early on in the season so shape will be a bit rusty, especially with 2 of our key pivots and our main strike player. I also wonder if the players have in the back of their mind it's going to be a long year, with a lot of games come the summer - and playing a bit more conservative. We played some excellent stuff in the summer last year.

    I'm hoping for more attacking play, but I'll give it more than two games before writing the style of play off

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    Quote Originally Posted by CGSaint View Post
    Wow. Some of the comments im reading.. Moaning for the sake of moaning (same old same on here)

    Fagues gets slated on here when he had a great game, hes such a solid hardworking player.
    Welsby just looks so natural when he has his moments of brilliance, and with the confidence to try anything. His development is very exciting.

    Saints can definitely improve on their plays out wide. We need to be setting up the wingers more for sure..

    Lees looking like we all thought he would.
    Amor looking good too
    lms on fire I thought. Love his energy when he comes on

    Like to see Smith get a bit more time, i think he brings a lot of energy and definitely could do with the game time.
    Good summing up. When you look at the speed Saints played at and compared it to some of the other games played well to be honest no comparison. Saints have set the standard. the only other teams who have come anywhere near are Wigan and Castleford and then in patches. Lomax is being targeted because without Coote he is the go to player.

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    In The North Stand With All The Old Folk DD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by STIDDY View Post
    The problem is some fans see the entertainment style of play being the "be all and end all" of a good coach when in reality its not all clear cut as that. Under Millward and Holbrook we played great rugby but we also had some poor periods where we lost in the "big games" struggled with composure, ball retention, became fatiqued at the buisness end of the season.

    Anderson and Woolf have similar methods to turn us into a NRL type side based on toughness, patience and great defence. Only when we have the upperhand and game control we can start scoring points, last season we did something similar when we went into a 10 game winning run scoring an average of 30+ points per game and tonked some teams with zero points against.

    The lockdown has given Woolf and the coaching staff a reduced quota of players to work from which has allowed him to work better with the young players outside the 17, if Woolf wins the Grand Final and Challenge Cup Final this season he should go down as one of the best coaches to be at the club, but I have this feeling that a minority of fans will not accept that.
    I don't think we can blame the big game losses so much on Holbrook. I think the team lacked big game experience, and I will always maintain that our halves struggle when it comes down to unlocking defences on the big occasion. We've lacked on the field guidance and leadership. We also lost a big game against Warrington under Woolf too and came within a whisker of doing so in the Grand Final.

    Under Millward, we lost games we generally couldn't be bothered with. The only real big game we flunked was the 2002 Challenge Cup Final.

    I do see your point, though. I don't see entertainment as being the "be all and end all", because there are games that you need to tough out. I do find it disappointing when we resort to the grind against poor opposition, though, especially in an era when you do have the luxury of losing a plethora of games and still finishing in the top four. The NRL may be based upon toughness, but the teams do try and move the ball out wide too.

    My take last season was that we only started to move the ball when we were three scores in front. My other take was that if we actually did that in the first place, we'd be three scores up much sooner and we wouldn't have lost as many games as we did. We have the best three quarter line in the country, but often it only gets used sparingly. The wingers will score from kicks or through coming inside, but the centres are largely redundant.

    At the end of the day, though, the history books do not give marks out of ten for entertainment. If Woolf's team win both major prizes this season, then history will rightfully judge him as a good coach, because whether fans like it or not, the remit on the form of employment is success and not fun.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DD View Post
    It reminds me very much of the Daniel Anderson era. I'll be honest, at the time, and with the hindsight of access to every seasons highlights, I thought 2006 was a pretty dull one that is remembered with fondness because of the trophy haul rather than the entertainment. Anderson got the best out of his team by playing to its strengths. Apart from Jamie Lyon, our backs were not a patch on the 2000 team, and there's no doubt his system was responsible for the successes of that year, but the enjoyment was a fraction of what we'd seen in the Millward era. Like now, we had changed to a forward dominated system and it rather unfortunately kick-started a ten year spell of utter tedium across the whole spectrum of British Rugby League. Only with the successes of Leeds in 2016, Castleford in 2017 and Saints in 2018 did it convince the coaches that moving the ball around like teams used to reaped a more likely reward of wins.
    This echoes what I said on another thread a couple of weeks ago, and I was roundly called an idiot for daring to criticise Anderson because ‘he won the lot’ basically. 2006 was a dominant year, but it wasn’t as exciting as 2005 and nowhere near as fun as the sides that won the league 5 years earlier. Anderson, Maguire, Brown and coaches like that came over here and changed the game into a coaching style that they had grown up with in Australia, and most clubs (definitely ours and Wigan) went full in with it, hence us trying to replace Anderson with Potter who came from a similar school of coaching. It set us back a decade because once the superstars of the 2000s disappeared we underachieved playing a terrible brand of RL that couldn’t cut the mustard without the best players.

    Wigan did the same and Wane tried to emulate Maguire and his success, but look at Wigan’s crowds now. Thousands have walked away because of the style of RL. Thousands that came to LP in those opening few months of 2012 didn’t opt to come back because of the style of RL as well. People can talk about what we won in 2006 but what about the decade after it when we wasted the chance to bring thousands back to the club with the new stadium because we made terrible coaching appointments. Only when Holbrook turned up did I start to believe that the club had realised it had made mistakes, but the appointment of Woolf confirmed they hadn’t.

    Woolf is a very very good coach, you see our defence and know the fella knows his stuff, but did we win the league because of him or because we have the best team, a team that developed and regained its big game mentality under Holbrook. Some will say we won the GF primarily because of Woolf, that’s fair enough, but IMO we played Wigan at their own game when we could have beaten them another way. It’s a debate, and we’ve had it on here many times.

    End of the day, I think Woolf will walk away with a lot more than just his one GF he has so far, and a lot of people will be more than happy with that and Woolf will deserve the credit because trophies outstrip all other concerns. But I think this team would have won trophies with another coach, and of course it did under the last one, and I enjoyed it a lot more then as well. I never worry about this current teams abilities to win stuff, but I worry about stuff in the mid to long term because as you say, the weekly rounds are so lacking in importance we end up with boring RL attracting 10-11k instead of 13-14k which does us no good. And if the team starts to dip in the next 3-4 years how will we look if we’ve not capitalised on our abilities to attract as many fans into LP as possible when we were actually winning league titles?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gray77 View Post
    This echoes what I said on another thread a couple of weeks ago, and I was roundly called an idiot for daring to criticise Anderson because ‘he won the lot’ basically. 2006 was a dominant year, but it wasn’t as exciting as 2005 and nowhere near as fun as the sides that won the league 5 years earlier. Anderson, Maguire, Brown and coaches like that came over here and changed the game into a coaching style that they had grown up with in Australia, and most clubs (definitely ours and Wigan) went full in with it, hence us trying to replace Anderson with Potter who came from a similar school of coaching. It set us back a decade because once the superstars of the 2000s disappeared we underachieved playing a terrible brand of RL that couldn’t cut the mustard without the best players.

    Wigan did the same and Wane tried to emulate Maguire and his success, but look at Wigan’s crowds now. Thousands have walked away because of the style of RL. Thousands that came to LP in those opening few months of 2012 didn’t opt to come back because of the style of RL as well. People can talk about what we won in 2006 but what about the decade after it when we wasted the chance to bring thousands back to the club with the new stadium because we made terrible coaching appointments. Only when Holbrook turned up did I start to believe that the club had realised it had made mistakes, but the appointment of Woolf confirmed they hadn’t.

    Woolf is a very very good coach, you see our defence and know the fella knows his stuff, but did we win the league because of him or because we have the best team, a team that developed and regained its big game mentality under Holbrook. Some will say we won the GF primarily because of Woolf, that’s fair enough, but IMO we played Wigan at their own game when we could have beaten them another way. It’s a debate, and we’ve had it on here many times.

    End of the day, I think Woolf will walk away with a lot more than just his one GF he has so far, and a lot of people will be more than happy with that and Woolf will deserve the credit because trophies outstrip all other concerns. But I think this team would have won trophies with another coach, and of course it did under the last one, and I enjoyed it a lot more then as well. I never worry about this current teams abilities to win stuff, but I worry about stuff in the mid to long term because as you say, the weekly rounds are so lacking in importance we end up with boring RL attracting 10-11k instead of 13-14k which does us no good. And if the team starts to dip in the next 3-4 years how will we look if we’ve not capitalised on our abilities to attract as many fans into LP as possible when we were actually winning league titles?
    I broadly agree with everything you say and maybe I'm being pessimistic but Im not sure anything would have kept the crowds at the 13-14000 level. It was just the novelty and hype around the new stadium that attracted those numbers I think and there would always be a leveling off. It's like a new shop opening in a city centre
    Last edited by Sean Day; 3rd April 2021 at 04:02.

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    In The North Stand With All The Old Folk Blobbynator's Avatar
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    I just don't buy the arguments regarding Anderson and now Woolf.

    It's not Daniel Anderson's fault that Saints went for similar coaches after him and that they failed. If anything it tells you how good a coach Anderson was that he was able to turn us into a team that suffocated opponents with aggressive defence that won countless trophies. It may not have been as pretty as under Millward but we were very dominant during his tenure. Saints went for similar coaches because they wanted to continue that domination, but got it wrong by selecting weaker coaches (Potter and Simmons) who didn't perform aswell as he did. The same happened when we went from Brown who got us back on the right track and then we replaced him with Cunningham.

    The same scenario has happened from 2014 to 2019. The difference is the quality of coach we employed in 2015 was different to the one we employed in 2020. If any coach could've won the title with this current team then maybe the same could've been said about the 2015 team that Cunningham took over but instead we were terrible. A team needs a good coach to win a title, you can't just employ any random guy to do the job, otherwise we'd be sat there doing it.

    Woolf has improved us massively in defence, similar to what Anderson did for us. I'd argue this Saints team is one of the best defensive teams I've ever seen. Our attack functions and it is a very simple game plan but generally works. Do I find it entertaining? At times not really. Sometimes I find myself bored and frustrated that we don't chance our arm more often and I wish we offloaded more aswell.

    I think we're a patient team that grinds the opposition down with forward power and then hits them at certain moments usually when were in the opponent's half. It is not as exciting as the Holbrook era on a week to week basis and there's no doubt Holbrook had a bigger job initially getting rid of the deadwood and turning our mentality around. But let's not forget the Catalans Semi Final, Wire Semi Final, Halifax Semi Final and Challenge Cup Final under him. It took him time to get it right. 3 of those games we overplayed and didn't earn the right to win those games and that was a symptom of Holbrook's playing style. When it works it's great but sometimes you need to rein it in and earn the right to play in and win big games. We wouldn't have won last year's final against Wigan playing like we did in those games because Wigan played an error free defensive game and kicked long to try to pin us in our half, similar to the way Wire played against us in the CC final in 2019. They scored their try when they were on our line and if we'd have invited more pressure, we'd have probably conceded more and lost.

    I'm willing to see how we perform once we have a fully fit side out and the new signings settle. Were a better side with Coote and Percival in our backline and once our new signings settle it'll be interesting to see what they offer to us and how Woolf uses them. It's not as exciting as Holbrook's era, but ultimately if we win trophies that's the main thing.
    Last edited by Blobbynator; 3rd April 2021 at 07:35.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blobbynator View Post
    I just don't buy the arguments regarding Anderson and now Woolf.

    It's not Daniel Anderson's fault that Saints went for similar coaches after him and that they failed. If anything it tells you how good a coach Anderson was that he was able to turn us into a team that suffocated opponents with aggressive defence that won countless trophies. It may not have been as pretty as under Millward but we were very dominant during his tenure. Saints went for similar coaches because they wanted to continue that domination, but got it wrong by selecting weaker coaches (Potter and Simmons) who didn't perform aswell as he did. The same happened when we went from Brown who got us back on the right track and then we replaced him with Cunningham.

    The same scenario has happened from 2014 to 2019. The difference is the quality of coach we employed in 2015 was different to the one we employed in 2020. If any coach could've won the title with this current team then maybe the same could've been said about the 2015 team that Cunningham took over but instead we were terrible. A team needs a good coach to win a title, you can't just employ any random guy to do the job, otherwise we'd be sat there doing it.

    Woolf has improved us massively in defence, similar to what Anderson did for us. I'd argue this Saints team is one of the best defensive teams I've ever seen. Our attack functions and it is a very simple game plan but generally works. Do I find it entertaining? At times not really. Sometimes I find myself bored and frustrated that we don't chance our arm more often and I wish we offloaded more aswell.

    I think we're a patient team that grinds the opposition down with forward power and then hits them at certain moments usually when were in the opponent's half. It is not as exciting as the Holbrook era on a week to week basis and there's no doubt Holbrook had a bigger job initially getting rid of the deadwood and turning our mentality around. But let's not forget the Catalans Semi Final, Wire Semi Final, Halifax Semi Final and Challenge Cup Final under him. It took him time to get it right. 3 of those games we overplayed and didn't earn the right to win those games and that was a symptom of Holbrook's playing style. When it works it's great but sometimes you need to rein it in and earn the right to play in and win big games. We wouldn't have won last year's final against Wigan playing like we did in those games because Wigan played an error free defensive game and kicked long to try to pin us in our half, similar to the way Wire played against us in the CC final in 2019. They scored their try when they were on our line and if we'd have invited more pressure, we'd have probably conceded more and lost.

    I'm willing to see how we perform once we have a fully fit side out and the new signings settle. Were a better side with Coote and Percival in our backline and once our new signings settle it'll be interesting to see what they offer to us and how Woolf uses them. It's not as exciting as Holbrook's era, but ultimately if we win trophies that's the main thing.
    Spot on this mate. I loved the rugby we played under Holbrook but I think even he realised after the cup final defeat to Warrington, that we needed to play with more patience and earn the right to play. The grand final against Salford was a fine example of how to win a big game. Complete at a high percentage and play field position.

    Woolf’s philosophy is defence and completions first and then when you have the opportunity you can play off the back of it. History tells you that defence wins big games and being patient and completing sets is paramount in a tough game.

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    Default 21 man squad v Hull KR

    We must have the most under-utilised back line in the whole league. There is a whole lot of ball that dies with Lomax when he tries the inevitable step inside .... again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by parky151277 View Post
    Spot on this mate. I loved the rugby we played under Holbrook but I think even he realised after the cup final defeat to Warrington, that we needed to play with more patience and earn the right to play. The grand final against Salford was a fine example of how to win a big game. Complete at a high percentage and play field position.

    Woolf’s philosophy is defence and completions first and then when you have the opportunity you can play off the back of it. History tells you that defence wins big games and being patient and completing sets is paramount in a tough game.
    That's fair enough when we're playing in big games, but they only happen 10 times in a season if you're very lucky. I don't think anyone is disputing it's different then.

    We don't need to play that way in bog standard league game against the likes of HKR that we will never lose barring an absolute disaster. And I don't care if that sounds cocky because we have the right to be while those kind of clubs are holding others back.
    Last edited by Angry Dave; 3rd April 2021 at 09:20. Reason: Brian Carney being an Umpah Lumpah

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blobbynator View Post
    I just don't buy the arguments regarding Anderson and now Woolf.

    It's not Daniel Anderson's fault that Saints went for similar coaches after him and that they failed. If anything it tells you how good a coach Anderson was that he was able to turn us into a team that suffocated opponents with aggressive defence that won countless trophies. It may not have been as pretty as under Millward but we were very dominant during his tenure. Saints went for similar coaches because they wanted to continue that domination, but got it wrong by selecting weaker coaches (Potter and Simmons) who didn't perform aswell as he did. The same happened when we went from Brown who got us back on the right track and then we replaced him with Cunningham.

    The same scenario has happened from 2014 to 2019. The difference is the quality of coach we employed in 2015 was different to the one we employed in 2020. If any coach could've won the title with this current team then maybe the same could've been said about the 2015 team that Cunningham took over but instead we were terrible. A team needs a good coach to win a title, you can't just employ any random guy to do the job, otherwise we'd be sat there doing it.

    Woolf has improved us massively in defence, similar to what Anderson did for us. I'd argue this Saints team is one of the best defensive teams I've ever seen. Our attack functions and it is a very simple game plan but generally works. Do I find it entertaining? At times not really. Sometimes I find myself bored and frustrated that we don't chance our arm more often and I wish we offloaded more aswell.

    I think we're a patient team that grinds the opposition down with forward power and then hits them at certain moments usually when were in the opponent's half. It is not as exciting as the Holbrook era on a week to week basis and there's no doubt Holbrook had a bigger job initially getting rid of the deadwood and turning our mentality around. But let's not forget the Catalans Semi Final, Wire Semi Final, Halifax Semi Final and Challenge Cup Final under him. It took him time to get it right. 3 of those games we overplayed and didn't earn the right to win those games and that was a symptom of Holbrook's playing style. When it works it's great but sometimes you need to rein it in and earn the right to play in and win big games. We wouldn't have won last year's final against Wigan playing like we did in those games because Wigan played an error free defensive game and kicked long to try to pin us in our half, similar to the way Wire played against us in the CC final in 2019. They scored their try when they were on our line and if we'd have invited more pressure, we'd have probably conceded more and lost.

    I'm willing to see how we perform once we have a fully fit side out and the new signings settle. Were a better side with Coote and Percival in our backline and once our new signings settle it'll be interesting to see what they offer to us and how Woolf uses them. It's not as exciting as Holbrook's era, but ultimately if we win trophies that's the main thing.
    Good peice mate, I agree with you on all of this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angry Dave View Post
    That's fair enough when we're playing in big games, but they only happen 10 times in a season if you're very lucky. I don't think anyone is disputing it's different then.

    We don't need to play that way in bog standard league game against the likes of HKR that we will never lose barring an absolute disaster. And I don't care if that sounds cocky because we have the right to be while those kind of clubs are holding others back.
    Having thought about it after your reply to me the other day, I have to agree with you.

    If we can’t take more risks or try some set plays against the likes of KR then we never will.

    I accept that we will need to be patient in the big games and knock out ties but we with our quality back line we should be playing more expansively against the lower half teams.


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    I would like us to be the entertainers and the winners but in most cases you just can’t do that - you can only try to find a way to win depending on the game plan/tactics utilised by the opposition.HKR played a spoiling game, flying up in the middle and trying to prevent us moving it wide by having their outside edges almost in our line. The majority of teams will play that way against us because we are champions and the team to beat. I can’t think of any other team who throw the ball around and are as successful as we are and in that respect the coaching staff are to be highly commended. Under Holbrook we lost two semis and a Challenge Cup final by possibly not being defensive enough. Contrast that with the GF this year. Watching the Saints teams from the 2000s on Sky this week made me realise that that group of individuals were top, special players - Long, Sculthorpe, Cunningham, Wellens, Lyon etc. who could play a more expansive game but the players, the opposition and the game itself is slightly different now. We showed what we could do in the first games after lockdown -Catalan, Leeds, Huddersfield etc - and we were great to watch - but teams started to work this style of play out and when we played Cas at home it needed to be a real physical “slug-fest” which is more symptomatic of how games against top teams are going to be. I feel we would have lost that game under Holbrook but we learned how to win maybe in an ugly fashion. In an ideal world Saints would win every game and every trophy playing champagne rugby but that, of course, isn’t going to happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blobbynator View Post
    I just don't buy the arguments regarding Anderson and now Woolf.

    It's not Daniel Anderson's fault that Saints went for similar coaches after him and that they failed. If anything it tells you how good a coach Anderson was that he was able to turn us into a team that suffocated opponents with aggressive defence that won countless trophies. It may not have been as pretty as under Millward but we were very dominant during his tenure. Saints went for similar coaches because they wanted to continue that domination, but got it wrong by selecting weaker coaches (Potter and Simmons) who didn't perform aswell as he did. The same happened when we went from Brown who got us back on the right track and then we replaced him with Cunningham.

    The same scenario has happened from 2014 to 2019. The difference is the quality of coach we employed in 2015 was different to the one we employed in 2020. If any coach could've won the title with this current team then maybe the same could've been said about the 2015 team that Cunningham took over but instead we were terrible. A team needs a good coach to win a title, you can't just employ any random guy to do the job, otherwise we'd be sat there doing it.

    Woolf has improved us massively in defence, similar to what Anderson did for us. I'd argue this Saints team is one of the best defensive teams I've ever seen. Our attack functions and it is a very simple game plan but generally works. Do I find it entertaining? At times not really. Sometimes I find myself bored and frustrated that we don't chance our arm more often and I wish we offloaded more aswell.

    I think we're a patient team that grinds the opposition down with forward power and then hits them at certain moments usually when were in the opponent's half. It is not as exciting as the Holbrook era on a week to week basis and there's no doubt Holbrook had a bigger job initially getting rid of the deadwood and turning our mentality around. But let's not forget the Catalans Semi Final, Wire Semi Final, Halifax Semi Final and Challenge Cup Final under him. It took him time to get it right. 3 of those games we overplayed and didn't earn the right to win those games and that was a symptom of Holbrook's playing style. When it works it's great but sometimes you need to rein it in and earn the right to play in and win big games. We wouldn't have won last year's final against Wigan playing like we did in those games because Wigan played an error free defensive game and kicked long to try to pin us in our half, similar to the way Wire played against us in the CC final in 2019. They scored their try when they were on our line and if we'd have invited more pressure, we'd have probably conceded more and lost.

    I'm willing to see how we perform once we have a fully fit side out and the new signings settle. Were a better side with Coote and Percival in our backline and once our new signings settle it'll be interesting to see what they offer to us and how Woolf uses them. It's not as exciting as Holbrook's era, but ultimately if we win trophies that's the main thing.
    I can't really disagree with much of that. A balanced and articulate response that I would expect from a man of your calibre. :-)

    What I have said in previous posts and will re-iterate is that the big game performances were not necessarily a let-down because of coaching or the system but down to a lack of on-field leadership and guidance, a lack of big match experience and perhaps a burden of pressure due to the fact that we'd had such a barren decade. These things all weigh heavy and this was born out again under Woolf last season when we were beaten by Warrington in a Cup tie at a time nobody was predicting we'd lose.

    I wouldn't say that the big game temperament has massively changed under Woolf. We did win the Grand Final, but it could have gone the other way. At the end of the day, though, correlation isn't necessarily causation. Chances are the players are learning to cope with the big occasion more through experience, because until Holbrook came, many of those players had only experience of losing big games, something which continued for a while after too. The truth is that we will never know what would have happened if Holbrook had stayed and we don't know what would have happened had another coach come in.

    What we can certainly say is that we do have the best defence now that we've ever had and you could argue that this is the best defence that we've ever seen in this country. The players take a massive pride in nilling the opposition and more often than not we do keep them down to single figures. That is down to the coaching, and Woolf does take enormous credit for that.

    At no point did I suggest that he and Anderson were bad coaches, but I do suggest that their methods come at the expense of entertainment. The question is whether that is the price we must pay for success, or whether this team would be even better if it just opened up a bit. Certainly, I see the sense in playing like we do in a Cup Final or a semi-final, but it frustrates me hugely when we won't even try to utilise the backs against the rubbing-rags in a formula that dictates that you only need to win a certain percentage of games to get you to those semi-finals.

    It's not Daniel Anderson's fault about the coaches we chose after. What I suggested was that the game of Rugby League in the UK changed on the back of his methods and how they managed to work. Coaches learned that if you had six rotating props, and they were good enough to simply school teams by charging at them down the middle, then that was the way they would go too. It became a blueprint for the future and there then followed a decade of tedious rugby. The game only recovered in this country when Leeds, Castleford and then Saints topped the table on the back of opening teams up with attacking rugby.

    Now, in my opinion, and it is only an opinion, Woolf's Saints may be rock solid, but they are methodical and functional rather than entertaining. Drives, drop off balls and a high boot on the last, make up 90% of our play. Now, if this model is successful again this year, then the other coaches are going to follow it. At the moment, many a team are playing the expansive game that, in my opinion, makes League such a great sport, but my concern is that the game in the UK could hit another trough in terms of that entertainment if the Woolf model of success is taken on board by others.

    Please note that I speak as a Rugby League supporter here and not as a St. Helens RLFC supporter. As a Saints supporter, if we play as we are and smash Wigan at Wembley and Wire at Old Trafford, then great, but I fell in love with Rugby League because it entertained me and I don't want to see another period in time like the first few years at the TW Stadium when going to Saints was nothing more than an excuse to see my mates, and after two decades of going to virtually every away game, I sacked it all off because it simply wasn't justifiable to spend all that money to be bored.
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  14. #164
    In The South Stand Webbo Again's Avatar
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    It's interesting to see how people perceived different eras under different coaches.

    Anderson
    I found that 2006 was the perfect mix of Anderson adding defensive solidity, and the team also retaining most of the attacking flair of the Millward period (helped by having probably the greatest team we've ever had assembled). After that, sure the focus increasingly shifted more to a structured approach, but I find it surprising that people remember 2006 as not entertaining as I consider it the epoch season of marrying defence and attack. Funny, though, that I never found Anderson's brand of rugby as boring as what followed.

    Post-Anderson & Disastrous Rule Change
    Also, the entertainment factor of the rugby regressed after Anderson left. This was in no small part due to the RFL/SL hammering in a very big nail into the coffin of the game as an entertainment spectacle by relaxing the holding down rules at the PTB. That removed our main 'defence disrupter' tactic of a quick PTB and a run from dummy half leading to a disorganised defence that we could attack, a tactic used by both Millward and Anderson.

    Poor Coaching Appointments
    I don't think Potter was ever a 'Saints coach', but he really was handed a poisoned chalice. I didn't find Simmons a particularly defense-obsessed coach, and he had to deal with the biggest part of our extended transition period. But he wasn't the sort of top level coach we needed. We actually played some great rugby early in Brown's tenure - until Walsh got crocked. After that it was 'injury central', not helped by being hamstrung by our marquee signings failing to shine. Even Cunningham's first 4/5 games saw us playing attacking rugby (I thought we'd hit the coaching jackpot) before the Souths WCC tonking and he seemed to then go into his shell and made us play awful rugby.

    Holbrook
    He was a breath of fresh air, and his holistic approach to the club/fan relationship was just what the club needed. We need to remember, though (as was pointed out earlier in the thread) that the Traynor/Long/Lolesi caretaker spell reintroduced an attacking intent. And Holbrook, for all he oversaw some fine attacking displays, also focused on defence a lot. We weren't a universally attacking side. And, as has been said, he struggled to install both belief and a successful gameplan in some key games.

    In general, it's much harder these days to play attacking rugby. The rules are not conducive to disorganised rugby and coaching focus is on defences. I personally think the entertainment spectacle is a shadow if what it was and I find most games a challenge in terms of entertainment and open rugby. There's countless examples of casual viewers finding even big games boring and switching off - and it's these casual viewers that are needed to boost Sky viewing figures to help us during contract negotiations.

    But those in charge of the game have their heads up their arses and don't seem to see this as a problem. Similarly, lots of fans don't see an issue and are content with a defence-dominated borefest grind-a-thon arm wrestle, with big blokes running into a well-set wall of other big blokes. When you have players timing their joining of a tackle perfectly in order to delay the start of the next play, then laying on whilst looking at their defence to make sure it's set before getting off, then the game has become a farce.

    Unfortunately, it's a farce that's slowly destroying the sport.
    Last edited by Webbo Again; 3rd April 2021 at 12:14.
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  15. #165
    really is sorry Reacher's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blobbynator View Post
    I just don't buy the arguments regarding Anderson and now Woolf.

    It's not Daniel Anderson's fault that Saints went for similar coaches after him and that they failed. If anything it tells you how good a coach Anderson was that he was able to turn us into a team that suffocated opponents with aggressive defence that won countless trophies. It may not have been as pretty as under Millward but we were very dominant during his tenure. Saints went for similar coaches because they wanted to continue that domination, but got it wrong by selecting weaker coaches (Potter and Simmons) who didn't perform aswell as he did. The same happened when we went from Brown who got us back on the right track and then we replaced him with Cunningham.

    The same scenario has happened from 2014 to 2019. The difference is the quality of coach we employed in 2015 was different to the one we employed in 2020. If any coach could've won the title with this current team then maybe the same could've been said about the 2015 team that Cunningham took over but instead we were terrible. A team needs a good coach to win a title, you can't just employ any random guy to do the job, otherwise we'd be sat there doing it.

    Woolf has improved us massively in defence, similar to what Anderson did for us. I'd argue this Saints team is one of the best defensive teams I've ever seen. Our attack functions and it is a very simple game plan but generally works. Do I find it entertaining? At times not really. Sometimes I find myself bored and frustrated that we don't chance our arm more often and I wish we offloaded more aswell.

    I think we're a patient team that grinds the opposition down with forward power and then hits them at certain moments usually when were in the opponent's half. It is not as exciting as the Holbrook era on a week to week basis and there's no doubt Holbrook had a bigger job initially getting rid of the deadwood and turning our mentality around. But let's not forget the Catalans Semi Final, Wire Semi Final, Halifax Semi Final and Challenge Cup Final under him. It took him time to get it right. 3 of those games we overplayed and didn't earn the right to win those games and that was a symptom of Holbrook's playing style. When it works it's great but sometimes you need to rein it in and earn the right to play in and win big games. We wouldn't have won last year's final against Wigan playing like we did in those games because Wigan played an error free defensive game and kicked long to try to pin us in our half, similar to the way Wire played against us in the CC final in 2019. They scored their try when they were on our line and if we'd have invited more pressure, we'd have probably conceded more and lost.

    I'm willing to see how we perform once we have a fully fit side out and the new signings settle. Were a better side with Coote and Percival in our backline and once our new signings settle it'll be interesting to see what they offer to us and how Woolf uses them. It's not as exciting as Holbrook's era, but ultimately if we win trophies that's the main thing.
    Brilliant post that mate.

    What I will also add is that despite the superb defence and line speed he’s also added aggression. One thing always levelled at us over a few years (even under Holbrook) was that when the going got tough, sometimes our pack didn’t fancy it. It’s why Warrington had our number a few times and also why one of their forwards openly said it to the media.

    Now we have a set of forwards who literally fly off the line and want to legally take the oppositions head off. I can’t recall a Saints team previously who had that aggression and defensive structure. Anderson’s 2006 team certainly had the structure but maybe not the aggression.

    No longer are we a soft touch. We are a team that can play in all weathers and all conditions and have the game plan to stay patient and relatively error free when we need to.


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  16. #166
    In The South Stand Ralph Fridge's Avatar
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    One of Holbrook's best wins was the 4-0 against Cas after we had lost the CC final to Wire. Wasn't free flowing that night. Was 2 teams bashing each other. Was a great game

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