Written by Callum Walker
Paul Wellens – the one-club man for St Helens – will always be a legend at Langtree Park and formerly Knowsley Road. And, whilst coaching may have gone sour for other legends of the game such as Keiron Cunningham, there is something about the former England and Great Britain fullback that makes him likely to succeed.
A bit of background; Wellens played all of his 17-year career with hometown club St Helens. He debuted for Saints in 1999, aged 19 and went on to play a huge 499 games, scoring 231 tries and kicking 40 goals and one drop-goal. Wellens tasted his first piece of finals success with St Helens in his maiden season, playing from the substitutes’ bench in the 1999 Grand Final victory over Bradford, and his last in the 2014 Grand Final.
When the time came to retire, Wellens had won it all: five Super League titles, five Challenge Cups, two World Club Challenges, the Man of Steel Award, the Lance Todd trophy, the Harry Sunderland trophy and had appeared in the Super League Dream Team on four occasions, making the fullback one of the most decorated Rugby League players in history.
With Wellens so instrumental for his club, a national call-up was always going to come. He debuted for England in 2000, playing 11 games and scoring four tries, whilst for Great Britain he registered 20 appearances, scoring three tries and kicking one goal.
🗣️ “I have locked horns with a lot of Shaun Wane’s teams over the years and ironically we now end up working with each other. It’s something I am really looking forward to!” @pwello reflects on his @England_RL appointment as Shaun Wane’s Assistant. 🏴https://t.co/l7FEulBzLO
— St.Helens R.F.C. (@Saints1890) April 20, 2020
As a fullback, Wellens was renowned for his overall game; a defensive master as well as an agile runner and astute passer, Wellens could do everything. A straight-talking, honest and tough competitor, Wellens acquired the respect and admiration of fans, players and pundits alike who believed that his lack of pace enhanced other areas of his game.
It is this Rugby League brain that makes the former fullback a perfect coaching candidate. A lack of pace made his tactical and positioning awareness all that more important and to say Wellens conquered both is an understatement. This knowledge of the game and the ability to motivate those around him comes second nature to him.
Having learnt from Justin Holbrook, Tonga head coach Kristian Woolf and recently being appointed as an assistant to Shane Wane with the England team, his coaching blueprint will have been devised from the very best in the game. Of course, other coaching jobs may come up before the one that he wants, but it certainly wouldn’t be surprising if Wellens became St Helens boss one day.