As the superstars of St Helens take to the famous Old Trafford turf this Saturday they will be well aware of two things. Firstly, they could become the first side to secure three Betfred Super League Grand Final wins in a row since Leeds Rhinos in 2009, and secondly, they are heavy favourites to do so.
Up against a plucky yet talented Catalans Dragons side, the first French team to ever reach this stage, they are fully expected to come away victorious and complete the three-peat. But Kristian Woolf is well-aware of the dangers that Catalans can pose, given he saw his side beaten on Magic Weekend via a golden point.
If this weekend’s showpiece event follows the same pattern as that 31-30 defeat for the current champions, then we are in for a treat, and there can be no arguing that these two sides have been the best in the Betfred Super League this season. Dragons are the League Leaders’ Shield winners and showed their class in their semi-final win over Hull KR, yet St Helens are the Betfred Challenge Cup holders and for many, the best team this country has to offer.
Now having won one game apiece in the regular league season, this is far from a foregone conclusion, but St Helens are favourites for a reason. Captain James Roby has once again been absolutely sensational and was massively praised on Betfred’s Super League show by Mike ‘Stevo’ Stephenson.
"I would rate him as the best hooker I have ever seen!” he said. “Now that is a big call because we have had some great players in the past for Great Britain and for England but this man just keeps giving and giving and giving. The one thing I am proud about is that he has realised he doesn’t want to get involved with the World Cup next year, I think that is a very smart move from him. He’d like to go out and make it four Grand Finals on the trot. But it is a great great tribute to that man. "
Roby has been at the club since 2004 and has been a hugely loyal servant to the side that now finds itself on the brink of three in a row. Although St Helens have won seven Grand Finals, four with Coby, this recent spell of success would be the best yet. Importantly, if they do get over the line on Saturday and secure the result, it would take them level with Leeds Rhinos on eight Grand Finals wins apiece. Now that would be something to shout about.
Lachlan Coote is hoping to head out of St Helens on the ultimate high as he targets his third successive win before he joins Hull KR. His career was in a lull after an injury-ridden season before he joined St Helens in 2018.
“The main reason I signed was to try to win a trophy so to go back to back and then go to a third Grand Final is a great achievement,” Coote told PA. “It would be unreal to go back to Old Trafford and finish on a high there. I’m grateful to be part of this special group. Coming here after 2018, I was thinking my career was done and Saints probably saved my career really.”
With Woolf at the helm, and such a vast array of talented at his disposal, St Helens are perfectly placed to assert themselves as the finest Super League in a decade.
If you fancy St Helens to make it three in a row, they are priced at 2/5 on Betfred.