By Tom Murray

Last Saturday St Helens became only the second club in the Super League era to win three Grand Finals in a row.

Two tries from Kevin Naiqama and a Lachlan Coote penalty were enough to see off League Leaders’ Catalans Dragons.

And now Steve McNamara will return to Perpignan with the same question everyone else in Super League has; ‘how do we stop Saints?’

Since 2018, St Helens have played in five finals (two Challenge Cup and three Grand Finals) and have won four, losing the 2019 Challenge Cup against Warrington.

It’s not as if it was the same squad every season throughout this period of dominance.

In 2018, Justin Holbrook brought in superstar Ben Barba to replace the departing Adam Quinlan.

The former Australian international was by far and away the best player, winning the 2018 Man of Steel despite only winning the League Leaders’ Shield.

In 2019, Barba left the club and Lachlan Coote was signed as his replacement alongside Kevin Naiqama, the two men who won Saints the Grand Final this year.

Saints won their first of three Grand Finals and said goodbye to their coach Justin Holbrook and replaced him with Kristian Woolf.

Woolf has led Saints to even more success in 2020 and 2021, winning two further Grand Finals and securing their first Challenge Cup win since 2008.

It’s been a revolving door of star names for the Saints and that is showing no signs of stopping anytime soon.

2022 will also introduce a new era for St Helens.

Both Coote and Naiqama have left the club, following Joel Thompson and James Bentley who announced their departures earlier in the year.

Coote will be playing for Hull Kingston Rovers next season whilst Bentley is joining his hometown club, Leeds Rhinos.

Naiqama and Thompson have now both retired from the sport following the Grand Final.

Kristian Woolf has also started to look for James Roby’s eventual replacement.

Saints’ stalwart will call time on his career at the end of the 2022 season, capping off a remarkable twenty-year career.

Joey Lussick appears to be the man who will have the unenviable task of filling Roby’s boots.

The former Salford hooker has joined from Parramatta ahead of the new season.

Konrad Hurrell is also rumoured to be joining St Helens in 2022, with the Tongan international leaving Leeds after his contract expired.

It will be a new era for St Helens, but one thing is for sure, every team around them will be looking to take away their crown.

The obvious contenders to topple Saints in 2022 is the Catalans Dragons.

Steve McNamara’s side were all-conquering in the regular season, losing only twice as the French club won their first League Leaders’ Shield.

Other teams that could realistically win the Grand Final next year are Wigan, Warrington and Leeds.

The latter will feel as if they are the favourites out of those three.

The Rhinos were only 80 minutes away from playing in their first Grand Final since 2017, losing heavily to St Helens in the qualifying semi-final.

They have recruited strongly for 2022, with James Bentley coming in from Saints, as well as highly rated half-backs Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin joining from Super League rivals Huddersfield and Warrington respectively.

The 2020 Challenge Cup winners will also welcome the return of former captain Luke Gale, as the England international will hope to bounce back from an injury-ridden 2021.

Saints are already the bookmakers’ favourites to win the Super League next year at 15/8.

Despite this, the beginning of a new era at the Totally Wicked Stadium means this could be the perfect opportunity for a team to rise and dominate Super League themselves.


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