John Yates: Wellens deserves legend tag

Paul Wellens richly deserves the tribute of club legend, says our Saints writer John Yates
Paul Wellens richly deserves the tribute of club legend, says our Saints writer John Yates

The word legend is often over-used to describe a sporting star but in the case of Paul Wellens it rings true.

Full-back Wellens, who announced his retirement as a player today, has devoted his entire career to Saints - his home town club - and in the past 17 years his success story reads like a Roy of the Rovers tale (albeit in a different sport!).

Since making his debut against Halifax in August 1998, the Great Britain and England international has played a major part in helping Saints achieve arguably their greatest era in terms of picking up trophies.

His roll of honour includes five Super League rings, five Challenge Cup triumphs, two World Club titles, Man of Steel accolade and the winner of both the Lance Todd and Harry Sunderland Trophies.

It’s a record that speaks for itself and is perfectly summed by the club’s Heritage Society which features every single player lucky enough to pull on the famous Red Vee jersey.

The society says “Local heroes ride high in St Helens and few have rivalled the respectful heights of Paul Wellens. With almost 500 matches under his belt and more than 220 tries to his name, Wello has been a fantastic all round player whose great asset was his reading of the game.

“A magnificent tackler in defence, he was also superb in taking the high bomb and linking up with the attack. His enthusiasm for the Saints could always be witnessed as he often used his young head on old shoulders to rally teammates when greater effort was needed. The ultimate professional on and off the field Paul gained universal respect through his unforgiving high expectations of colleagues and unpretentious level headiness.”

Success certainly never went to his head - and having known him since he made his debut all those years ago against Halifax - he still remains the same down-to-earth guy. Affable, easy to get on with and with a vast knowledge of the sport which he has graced with dignity for more than a decade

That’s why I expect Saints to find himself a backroom role, joining former team-mates Keiron Cunningham, Sean Long and Ade Gardner in helping plot more success for one of the most decorated clubs in the Super League era.

What a team they will make!