JON Wilkin’s love affair with Saints and the town of St Helens started from the moment he signed for the Super League giants a decade ago - and it’s still as strong as ever today.
The versatile 29-year-old will lead out the Saints’ side at Langtree Park on Sunday ahead of his testimonial match against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats happy in the knowledge that he has achieved almost every goal in his sporting career since crossing the Pennines from Hull KR.
“It will be a proud moment when I step on to the pitch in front of my family and friends and the club supporters who have shown me great loyalty over years,” said the Great Britain and England international.
Hull-born Wilkin, who made his Saints’ debut in a Challenge Cup tie against Batley Bulldogs in February 2003, added: “I love the town and its people and while I have travelled the world playing rugby and holidayed abroad, I’ve never been anywhere which compares with St Helens.
“The people are the salt of the earth and totally honest. Sometimes they can be brutal when assessing your performances on the field, but I wouldn’t swap them for the world.”
The Super League title, Challenge Cup success and the World Club Challenge crown form part of Jon’s impressive CV but he freely admits that two goals still remain before he hangs up his boots.
He said: “I would be great if I could help England win the World Cup at end of the year, as well as picking up at least one more piece of silverware in a Saints’ shirt.
“We were spoiled by success a few years ago but you have to remember that side included Sean Long, Keiron Cunnigham and Paul Sculthorpe.
“They were world class - the likes of which you wouldn’t see at one club now but if I could help the current squad to more success as one of the senior players, it would be the icing on the cake.”
But Wilkin doesn’t want to sever his connections with RL when he calls it a day and is looking to pursue an administrative role in the sport.
He said “I want to make a positive contribution to the direction the game is going.
“We live in volatile times when clubs are struggling to survive and personally I have strong views on the subject.
“Whether they would work, I don’t know, but I would like to air them”
Wilkin’s testimonial match is on Sunday, kick-off at 3pm.