Departing St Helens coach Justin Holbrook calls for World Club Challenge grand finale

DEPARTING ST Helens coach Justin Holbrook has called for the World Club Challenge to be staged at the end, rather than start, of future seasons.

St Helens coach Justin Holbrook (centre right) lifts the trophy after the final whistle in the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA

Holbrook will be beginning a new career in charge of Gold Coast Titans when Saints face Australian NRL Grand Final winners Sydney Roosters next February. And, after seeing his current team’s two-year domination of Super League rewarded with their first major trophy since 2014, Hobrook admitted that is his only regret.

“I would love the World Club Challenge to be next week,” said Holbrook.

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“I think it would be great if the two (Grand Finals) were played on the same weekend and the (World Club) the next week, because then you’d have the same sides.

Salford Red Devils coach Ian Watson, pictured at Old Trafford on Saturday. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA

“Wigan put up a great fight against the Roosters this year, but they didn’t have John Bateman and Sam Tomkins and it’ll be the same next year.

“The Roosters won’t have Cooper Cronk and all that, but it is hard to fit in with the international schedule.

“I won’t be coaching them, but I am just so happy they’ve earned the right to play for that World Club Challenge.”

Salford’s goal next year will be to prove finishing third on the league ladder and qualifying for their first major final of the summer era wasn’t a flash in the pan.

Salford Red Devils' Gil Dudson commits a high tackle on St Helens' Luke Thompson. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA

“It’s amazing,” coach Ian Watson said of this season’s progress.

“It is bigger than just getting to a Grand Final, it’s like the boys have got people to fall in love with their rugby team again.

“Hopefully we can keep some of the supporters who got behind us towards the back end of the year.

“We are a club that has to rely a lot on local businesses and its supporters to fund us going forward.”