Talking Sport: Wello’s dedication deserves reward

Paul Wellens
Paul Wellens

Sheffield Eagles shocked the Rugby League world by toppling red-hot favourites Wigan 17-8 in the Challenge Cup Cup Final, Pete Sampras

was crowned Wimbledon champion and Arsenal lifted the FA Cup at the expense of Newcastle United.

Three memorable sporting event from 1998 but it was also a year a talented rugby league-playing St Helens youngster set out on a road which has since been paved with gold.

I hardly need reminding any knowledgeable sports fan in the town that the player is full back Paul Wellens who recently notched up his 500th career game, both at domestic and international level, and quite rightly was given a guard of honour as he stepped out to face the Catalan ragons.

Wello has dedicated his sporting life to his home-town club since making his debut in a 36-6 home win over Halifax Blue Sox on August 30, 1998, and since been rewarded for his unswerving loyalty by picking up Challenge Cup, Super League and World Club Challenge titles, as well as the three highest individual honours in the domestic game - the Man of Steel accolade, the Lance Todd Trophy and the Harry Sunderland Trophy.

Writing in his captain’s column ahead of Friday’ fixture, he declared: “To play 500 professional games is a personal achievement, of which I am proud.

“It shows I’ve had longevity in my career and benefited from playing at such a great club.”

The Saints’ club captain, who also needs one point to reach a career points total of 1,000, said: “ Physically and mentally, I don’ feel I have played so many games and this year I am feeling good, still enthusiastic and enjoying being part of a group of players, albeit in a different role than I’ve occupied during the majority of my career.”

His experience as a long-serving playing member of the squad cannot be under-estimated and I know his input both on and off the field is appreciated by coach Nathan Brown.

Wello is currently on a one-year contract and whether it will be extended further is anyone’s guess but it wouldn’t surprise me if eventually he is invited on to the coaching staff, helping to look after the club’s up and coming youngsters

It would be a fitting reward for a player who has helped bring so much joy and a host of memorable and magical moments to Saints’ fans up and down the country.