The stars of the St Helens side that created Super League history on Saturday say there is no reason their dominance cannot continue for years to come.
The Saints became the first side in the modern era to win four successive league titles when they defeated Leeds 24-12 at Old Trafford.
Only one other side, the great Wigan team of the 1990s, have won four consecutive league titles since the game was founded in 1895.
To many the Saints’ victory on Saturday removes any doubt about their status as the best team in Super League history and perhaps the greatest of all-time. But internally the focus has already shifted towards whether they can go for a fifth successive crown in 2023.
With the majority of their squad under 30 and very little player turnover expected in the next year, those at the heart of the success are bullish about the future. “I don’t think this is the end — in fact I don’t think it’s anywhere near,” said Tommy Makinson.
“Being 30 in this group makes you feel like you’re getting on a bit but look at a lot of these guys. They’re in their early 20s. We’ll celebrate this but then we’ll think about what’s next. And that’s five in a row.”
One of the group’s elder statesmen is Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook. At 36, and with more than a decade of service at St Helens, the forward says his desire to create more history is fuelled by the possibility that 2023 could be his last year at the club.
McCarthy‑Scarsbrook said: “There is no way this group gets the credit it deserves. Next year, five is the target. People hate success in England and with what we’ve done, it brings people willing you not to do it again. I can’t see things changing in 2023: we’re aiming to blow everyone out of the water again.”
One thing that will change, however, is the club’s head coach. Kristian Woolf, who has overseen the past three Super League title successes, will return to Australia next year. The expectation is that the Saints’ legendary full‑back and current assistant, Paul Wellens, will replace him.
Whoever takes charge, Woolf says he leaves the champions in a strong position to continue their dominance. “I know it’s a debate and people like to talk about it, but what you can do is compare results and there is no doubt in my mind that this is the best team of the Super League era,” Woolf said.
“With the way they fight the way they work for each other I’ve no doubt they are going to give themselves the best chance to do it again next year.”