Saints boss Keiron Cunningham admitted yesterday to being “heartbroken” at the latest injury blow suffered by former team-mate Gary Wheeler.
Injury-jinked Wheeler, who left his home-town club to join neighbours Warrington Wolves in 2015, tore his Achilles during the Wire’s 31-30 win at Salford on Thursday and is likely to out of action for five months, plunging his future playing career into doubt.
Cunningham, who played along side ‘Wheels’ and also coached him at St Helens where he featured in less than 70 matches between 2008 and his move to the Halliwell-Jones Stadium, said: “My wife and I watched the game on Sky and I nearly broke down for him when he was injured.
“Gary is a great guy and genuine character and deserves better than what he has got in terms of injuries.
“Basically genetics seem to be against him.”
The head coach added: “I’ve seen what he can do with the ball on the rugby field and in training and it blows your mind.
“If the kid had not suffered these kind of setbacks he had the potential to be one of the best players in the country.
“It is unfortunate some break down a lot and we have seen this happen over the year but Gary’s situation just breaks your heart because all he wants to do is play rugby.
“He breaths the sport and so does his family, but sadly he has spent more time in the treatment room than on the field of play.”
Saints’ hooker James Roby, who like stand-off Wheeler came through the junior ranks at Blackbrook ARLFC, said: “Gary is one of the most gifted players around and I sincerely hope he recovers from his latest injury and isn’t forced to quit the game he loves.”