Yates' verdict: Jack Welsby continues meteoric rise to the top
Jack Welsby's phenomenal rise from Shevington Sharks ARLFC to joining the England squad for the first time ahead of Friday's match against the Combined Nations All Stars at Warrington is what dreams are made of.
The versatile 20-year-old, who grabbed all the headlines last season when he scored a dramatic last-gasp winning try which enabled Saints to lift the 2020 Grand Final trophy at the expense of arch-rivals Wigan Warriors, didn't make the final 17 after being called up at the 11th hour by England boss Shaun Wane to replace injured team-mate Jonny Lomax, but the experience will have done him a world of good and a massive boost to his confidence.
It also shows that he is one of the players firmly in Wane's thoughts and may lead to him making his country's squad at the World Cup later this year.
While Welsby, who also played for Blackbrook Royals before graduating to the Saints' Academy set-up, had to sit out the fixture, two of his club colleagues, Morgan Knowles and Tommy Makinson, featured in the starting line-up, producing first rate displays which didn't do their own World Cup aims any harm.
Knowles' decision to pledge his international allegiance to England after already wearing the Welsh jersey earlier in his career looks to be paying handsome dividends and fitness allowing will, I believe, be in Wane's final squad.
The Cumbrian-born forward scored a stunning second-half try, blasting his way through the heart of the All Stars' defence but it did not prevent Tim Sheens' hastily selection squad picking up a 26-24 victory.
Makinson didn't figure on the scor sheet but came within a whisker of crossing the whitewash before being smashed into touch by a thunderous tackle.
ENGLAND Women's team had been centre stage at the same venue earlier and handed out a 60-0 hammering to international rookies Wales.
Eight St Helens players were on duty, including debutants Paige Travis and Beth Stott and all contributed to the final scoreline.
Skipper Emily Rudge grabbed two tries and was joined on the score sheet by Carrie Roberts, Jodie Cunningham, and Tara Jones.