Wello’s World: A tough, but great start to season

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I THINK as far as Super League round one fixtures go, a trip down to London against a good side who have added a lot of quality to their squad is as tough as it gets.

The early rounds of the competition are quite often very tough with most squads at full strength, all are looking to put down a marker and gain some momentum as quickly as possible.

It was unfortunate having to be a spectator at the weekend, but to see the guys grind out the victory was very encouraging.

There were times in the game that things weren’t quite going our way, but we had the quality to come up with some big plays at crucial times to give us the edge.

James Roby seems to have picked up from where he left of last season. He looked very dangerous with ball in hand, and maintained his usual phenomenal work rate in defence.

I also thought that Sia Soliola and Anthony Llafranchi had strong games in the middle of the park. It was a game where our forward pack needed to step up and these guys in particular did that.

n I’M sure everyone is extremely excited about our next fixture, the first Super League game at Langtree Park.

And I’m sure it will be a fantastic atmosphere on Friday evening for the visit of Salford, and we are looking forward to the occasion.

We are aware that playing in our new home guarantees us nothing and we have to continue to work hard, prepare well and transfer it out onto the field if we are to get the results we need.

There are a few areas we feel we can get better from last week, and we hope we can make those improvements.

n IT will be fantastic to have Tom Van Vollenhoven lead the team out on Friday.

I have met Tom a few times in recent years. Firstly when he lead us out at the 2006 cup final at Twickenham, and then again at the Greatest 17 Dinner at the Knowsley Road farewell.

Tom is a really nice guy and whenever you speak to any of the town’s elder members they speak very highly of him.

It’s great that even though we are starting a new era we can still recognise the history of the club.

I remember when St Helens signed Darren Albert in 2002. A player with electric pace, he scored a try at home to Hull that season which was exceptional.Darren got the ball and down the touch line he went, he rounded his opposite winger, then went in and away on the full back and dived in at the corner.

The popular side were going wild and the try was the talk of the town that weekend.

The next day I was in a shop in the town centre when two elderly gentlemen were engaged in conversation, one was talking the other through the try he had witnessed the night before, and explained it in pretty much the same way I have.

As he got to the end he told the other gentlemen that Darren had dived in at the corner, the other gentleman had a look of disbelief on his face, and I presumed he was amazed by what he had heard until he turned away and said “Voll would have gone under the sticks” and continued on with his shopping.

This was my first experience of how revered Tom is in the town and certainly gave me great pleasure in training on Monday, when I asked Darren why he didn’t go under the sticks.

n THANKS to those who braved the weather and the difficult travelling conditions in supporting us down in London on the weekend, the guys really appreciate your efforts.

All the best – Wello