Super League play-offs: St Helens boss Kristian Woolf calls for early decision on finals

St Helens
St Helens' bid to retain their Super League crown will boil down to a play-off series

St Helens boss Kristian Woolf wants the regular 2020 season to end early and the creation of a Super League play-off series with "integrity".

Covid-19 cases and threadbare squads have led to cancelled games this week, with top-four side Warrington handed a win following a Salford forfeit.

Stopping the season and allowing teams with realistic play-off ambitions to enter a knock-out phase is one option.

"This could potentially be the last weekend," Woolf said.

"I think that is what has to happen to be honest, otherwise we are continuing with a compromised competition that will only become more compromised in time, and difficult to fulfil fixtures.

"[We have an opportunity to look at] how we can come up with something that ensures the finals series has some real integrity about it, in terms of who's participating, who gets rewarded for being a part of it and therefore who gets rewarded for winning a series of integrity."

By compromised, Woolf believes that even with the number of games weighted against a points percentage, some sides will have played more matches and some fewer, yet still be in the same battle for the title.

He referenced Salford's forfeit against Warrington as being completely understandable from the Red Devils' point of view regarding player welfare, but also the notion of a top four rival receiving a "free" win and improved percentage.

There is also a belief that the end-of-season play-offs need to be of significance to make them worthwhile.

"I don't think we can go as high as seven or eight teams because it rewards teams that haven't played consistent enough to be in a finals series," he added.

"We had a system of five [set-up before 2020 started] and I think they would be very fair - that's five teams who have realistically been playing for the top four and it's no-one's fault some can't fulfil games.

"If we have to extend it, six would be more fair than going any higher."

The Super League already revised the league table weighting, from points earned to a win percentage based on the number of games played, and the threshold being 15 games minimum from 20 to qualify.

At present, there is a smaller disparity between the number of games played by the various clubs than if further postponements were incurred over the next four scheduled games.

Every club bar Catalans on 12 has played either 15 or 16 matches, going into the Thursday and Friday schedule.

Meanwhile, Wakefield head coach Chris Chester has told BBC Radio Leeds he would be "disappointed" if the season was brought to an early end.

"For everything that we've gone through as a club, I would be really disappointed if they went down that route," he said before Thursday's game against Leeds.

"Every team has tried. At times we've had 11 people stood down, we could have easily said 'we're not playing, we've got too many players out'. We've not done that, we've fulfilled our fixtures.

"I think there was one game we had to call off against Leeds but this is the game we're picking up now.

"What is there - 20 games to play within the whole competition? Let's get them played and let's get it done."

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