Prekkie’s example will live on for generations

Steve Prescott after completing the London Marathon
Steve Prescott after completing the London Marathon

He was a man whose attitude and sheer will to succeed was quite simply an inspiration to all.

Steve Prescott, who died on Saturday morning aged 39 after a seven-year battle with stomach cancer, set an unprecedented template for how to live – and thrive – in the face of adversity.

Friends and former Saints colleagues Paul Wellens and Paul Sculthorpe have both spoken movingly of their admiration for a man whose unbending will inspired and touched the lives of countless others.

Wellens, the current Saints skipper, and Sculthorpe, a former club and country captain, told of the esteem in which they held the former St Helens full-back.

Wellens, who eventually inherited Prescott’s full-back mantle at Knowsley Road, said: “Sometimes as rugby league players, we talk about working hard and work ethic and drawing on all these types of strengths and facing adversity but what Steve has done over the past seven years in facing adversity supersedes any athletic achievement anyone has done.

“People thought he could beat this. The last time I spoke to him he was speaking positively about tackling the illness, and it was a privilege just to sit and speak with him.

“I don’t think I have ever met such a mentally strong person. The way he dealt with his situation, you can’t speak highly enough of him.”

Wellens, who came up through the ranks at Saints and watched Prescott in his playing heyday from the stands at Knowsley Road, added: “It’s unbelievable what he did in terms of the charity endurance challenges.

“People who are fit and well were finding these types of challenges hard, and here he is, a guy diagnosed with a terminal illness doing it. That was the type of guy he was. But I remember Steve said to me once, ‘it’s only a challenge if it’s a challenge’, and that summed him up. He wanted to hard work.”

Wellens added: “He also had a really positive impact on the town. He transformed something awful and did something good with it. He’s brought the community back together with the challenges and the events.

“So many relationships have been built on the back of the good work he did. I know personally I have made so many good friends through doing work for his foundation.”

Ex-Great Britain skipper and back-to-back Man of Steel winner Sculthorpe, who played alongside and against Steve and would later go on to embark upon countless epic charity fundraisers with him, called Prekkie “a born winner”.

The pair completed back-to-back marathons together, with Scully going on take part in many other endurance challenges.

Scully said: “He was just unbelievable right from when he was diagnosed. To think that he has gone through what he went through, and he wants to do something to help other people. It’s incredible.

“I never thought I would or could run a marathon – I’m not built for pounding the streets – but when you are asked to do it by a man like Steve Prescott, you don’t say no.

“Obviously I’m devastated. What he had to go through was so tough but I just thought if anyone could beat it, it would be Steve.

“He was just that kind of guy. He just wouldn’t take a backwards step. He was so tough and he was the kind of guy who always wanted to win. He didn’t want to let cancer beat him.

“He was a remarkable fella in almost every way you can think of.”