Amor: Transformative Holbrook remains at the heart of St Helens’ success

 | December 14 | 

3 mins read

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In the first instalment of a new series featuring some of the modern legends of rugby league, Kyle Amor has told Betfred that former coach Justin Holbrook remains key to the successes of St Helens four years on from the Australian’s departure from the Betfred Super League.

Amor won four Super League rings during his spell with the Saints, including the 2019 Grand Final victory over Salford Red Devils which topped off a transformative two-and-a-half-year spell in charge for Holbrook.

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But while the head coach then moved on to take the reins at NRL side Gold Coast Titans, Amor has explained how Holbrook’s changes to the culture at Langtree Park shaped the foundations of a Saints side which went on to win three more Super League titles in successive seasons under Kristian Woolf.

“I look back at some of the opportunities we had before Justin came in, and I think we wasted a few years,” Amor tells Betfred’s Lewis Smith in episode one of ‘The Legends Guide To Rugby League’.

“We got some bad recruitment around that time – some really bad recruitment – players who really you wouldn’t sign at a top, top club, I think the remit from the board or whoever must have been ‘Try to recruit cheap and see what happens.’

“They got it wrong, but also off the field we weren’t great. There was a lot of socialising going on there, and a bit too much of it, and it was around when Justin Holbrook came in when he got rid of the ones who were enjoying themselves too much without working hard.”

Amor explains that it was Holbrook’s push for small, incremental changes which made a huge impact in the long term under first Woolf and then current World Club Championship-winning coach Paul Wellens.

“He brought in this ethos of working hard and making the right choices, and it’s something so, so simple,” he adds. “I always remember, on one of his first days he used this analogy of: if you’re going out for a meal with your family, if you want to get burger and chips, just swap your chips for a salad. You can still have that, but make your choices better and think about the team when you’re doing it.

“It might come across as a rubbish analogy, but that’s how he explained it. If you’re going to have four beers after a game, have three. And slowly but surely the mindset and the culture of the playing group just started to be born really. It’s what you see today; Justin Holbrook was the foundation of every single thing that is happening at that club now.

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“Kristian Woolf came in and, yes, he made us better defensively, but what he did and our KPIs and everything we based our game on was what Justin Holbrook brought in, and I dare say they’re still doing that now. Obviously they’ll tweak it along the way, and Wello will have his style, but he [Holbrook] was the main driver behind what you see now.”

The full in-depth interview is now available on The Sportsman Rugby League on YouTube.


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