Kristian Woolf provides update on futures of key St Helens quartet – Manchester Evening News

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Kristian Woolf has spoken of his hope that a number of the club’s leading out-of-contract stars will agree to stay at St Helens beyond this season – but admitted it may not be possinble.

Players such as Theo Fages, who has been heavily linked with a move to Huddersfield Giants, James Bentley, Lachlan Coote and Kevin Naiqama are off-contract at the end of the 2021 campaign.

Saints head coach Woolf hinted that salary cap considerations could prompt some players to depart but said he would prefer them to stay.

Woolf said: “We have been in discussions with all of our players and everyone in our squad knows exactly where they sit.

“From the club’s point of view, in terms of whether we would like them to stay, and whether there is a spot here for them next year, there are a lot of complexities to that around the salary cap and players from Australia and New Zealand plus the difficult circumstances there have been in the past 12 to 18 months.

“Those discussions are always ongoing but I’ve been really clear all the way through that the guys who are off-contract – Kevin Naiqama, Lachlan Coote, James Bentley and Theo Fages – those kind of guys, we would love all of them to stay.

“They all know that and over the coming weeks they have got decisions to make in terms of whether they can stay.

“Like I said, under the circumstances, in terms of being away from home and whether we can fit them into the salary cap as well.

“It’s a complex one, there is a lot to it, and over the next couple of weeks it will become clearer.

“We will then be able to let people where individuals stand after that.”

Meanwhile, Woolf said the defending Super League champions would continue to tread carefully with the fitness of England centre Mark Percival.

Percival is nursing a hamstring strain and is expected to be sidelined for another two to three weeks, meaning he will miss England’s mid-season international against the Combined Nations All Stars later this month.

But Agnatius Paasi should return from a hamstring problem in Thursday’s crunch home clash with title rivals Warrington Wolves.

Saints’ trip to Leeds Rhinos last week was postponed because of positive Covid-19 cases in the camp at Headingley, added: “I think having a week off will help us to refresh mentally.

“We’re being really cautious with Mark with his prehab and rehab so that we make him bulletproof.

“Agnatius Passi just had a minor hamstring tear, his first-ever one, but he’s a very different case to Mark and I expect he’s going to play this week.

“Joe Batchelor has been cleared of concussion on the day and would have been able to play against Leeds last week while Matty Foster will be back in the next couple of weeks and his jaw has recovered.

“Jake Wingfield has had surgery on his shoulder and is still seven or eight weeks away.

“James Bentley is out for a similar length of time but Matty Lees should be back in the next three or four weeks.”