Quartet of Saints lead tributes to Wellens

Paul Wellens, pictured with Saints chairman Eamonn McManus, received a round of applause from the assembled press pack when he announced his retirement
Paul Wellens, pictured with Saints chairman Eamonn McManus, received a round of applause from the assembled press pack when he announced his retirement

Ex-Saints coach Nathan Brown says Paul Wellens, who announced his retirement today, will go down as one of the club’s all time greats.

Brown, club captain Jon Wilkin, head coach Keiron Cunningham and Daniel Anderson, perhaps Saints’ most successful coach of recent times, all paid tribute to Wellens.

Wellens in action for his beloved Saints

Wellens in action for his beloved Saints

Wellens skippered Brown’s side to Grand Final glory last season and formed a close bond with the Australian.

Brown said: “Paul will go down as one of the best club players of all time. His record of Grand Final and Challenge Cup successes speak for themselves and historically will mark him as one of the all time great players.

“When you ask me about Wello three things stand out - his toughness, will to win and leadership qualities.

“Above all Wello is a man of integrity and character who understands the importance of family. He is just an all round good bloke and there can be no higher accolade than that.”

Current club skipper Jon Wilkin said Wellens deserved his place among the greats of rugby league.

He said: “There has been no greater friend and supporter of me than Paul Wellens. He is my best friend both on and off the field.

“You will not find a better family man with a strong sense of morals and decency than him. He sits above most people in that respect.

“The one thing he taught me is that time is an asset and very valuable. There is no one who has given his time and done more off the field for St Helens RFC and the sport than him. That is the measure of the man; he has contributed so much and given up so much for other people.

“He is selfless man, with high integrity, a great moral compass and above all a great friend.”

Keiron Cunningham, Saints head coach, who played alongside Wellens for over a decade, added: “Paul is simply one of the greatest players ever to pull on a Saints shirt. He has the respect of everyone around him and everyone loves and loved playing with him - me included.

“Last season on the way back from Catalans, after we lost Jonny Lomax, the coaches were disappointed and thought that our season was perhaps over. I said to them that Wello will win us trophies and that’s exactly what he did.

“We wanted him to go around again, such is his influence, but the rugby gods have tapped him on the shoulder. His influence on us and what we do is never going to be lost. That is a great thing about this place and the influence great players can have on the Saints without pulling a shirt on.

“His track record speaks for itself with how much he has won and that will never be lost. I wish him all the best.”

And Daniel Anderson, who coached Wellens during the mid 2000s, added: “It is a real privilege to have coached him. I was fortunate enough to be able to watch him play, train, grow and develop as a player during his prime and achieve many personal and team accolades.

“Wello is a very intelligent, courageous and selfless player.”

Anderson was also quick to highlight a lesser known aspect of Wellens’ personality - his love of a brew!

“I don’t know of another rugby league player who drinks as much tea as he does,” added Anderson.