Jack Welsby reveals Phil Gould motivation and fears of Samoa repeat

St Helens created history on Saturday when they defeated Penrith Panthers in their own backyard to be crowned Champions of the world.

The match winner was Lewis Dodd with a golden point drop goal and after the game he opened up on NRL.com about the moment:

“It’s quite hard to put into words, it’s a moment you dream of as a kid. It doesn’t get any better than that and I’m so proud to live it with the lads, they make my job and my life so good. I’m privileged to know them and call them teammates.”

He also explained why it took Saints three attempts to nail the drop goal:

“The first one was a bit of miscommunication, it went to Jonny and it should have gone to me. The second one it would have gone over but he got his hand to it so I knew when I got a clean shot that it was going over.

It was a special moment for Dodd after missing the Grand Final: “You can’t experience highs in this game if you can’t experience lows, I’m a big believer in that.

That return from injury showed special character, something both sides showed down under on Saturday: “It’s credit to both teams really, we led 12-0 for most of that game. Penrith fought back because they’re a classy outfit and a really good side, so it’s credit to both teams.

“We knew that’s the type of team we are, we knew that but the world didn’t and we showed the world tonight that we’ll go toe to toe with anyone for as long as it takes. We believe in ourselves and hopefully the rest of the world does as well.

“Them efforts where you know someone is tired and hurting but they’re still willing to out that effort in, not for them but for the person to their right or their left, for the club. Them little efforts stick with you and when you’ve got people in the middle like James Roby and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook who are old men still doing it, it just shows what this club means to us.”

Teammate Alex Walmsley echoed Dodd’s thoughts claiming it is “one of the greatest achievements” in the sport:

“For me this is the best, we’ve achieved some incredible things over the last four years but I’m not going to undersell this. This is the greatest achievement of our team, but also the club’s history as well.

“To come over here and face back to back champions, a team that are rightly the best over here, and get a result on their own patch, in those conditions.

“I’m not going to undersell it, it’s one of the greatest achievements for me in our sport, for Super League, for St Helens and English rugby league as well.”

He reinforced the notion that they were written off:

“We come over here with absolutely no chance whatsoever. There was probably 17, 18 men in there, plus coaching staff and 800 fans who came and supported us that actually believed in us. The rest of the world gave us n chance whatsoever, we embraced that and used it to show everyone what we’re about and what we’re made of.

“You go into their hanging rooms and tell me if they didn’t take it seriously.”

“For our sport back home this is massive, we don’t have the finances, the infrastructures that you guys have here. We’re a working class northern sport who look after one another, we’ve done it for us but also for the English Super League as well.

“There’s one thing about elite sport and that’s you only get so many opportunities to succeed and do amazing things, we weren’t going to let that opportunity slip.

“Thankfully we didn’t let it slip and I want to reiterate that we did it against a team that has dominated the NRL for two years straight, and they’ll probably dominate it again this year. We can hang our hats now, we can retire and say we did something special tonight.

“Turning around and seeing 800 St Helens fans behind the sticks who’ve paid so much money to be here. We’re a working class town, we’re not affluent, we’re in a cost of living crisis and the fans have paid thousands of pounds to come and support us.

“To turn around and see 800 people and what it means to them, that will stick with me forever. It just goes to show that what we bring to our small town means so much for those people.”

The Man of the Match was fullback Jack Welsby spoke about the fear that crept into him after his knock on led to the equalising try from Penrith with him fearing that the game would repeat England’s defeat to Samoa in the World Cup but James Roby kept him calm:

“We’ve shown there on the pitch that we could have easily wilted, I’ve gone and knocked a ball on and they’ve scored in the corner. I thought the game was gone basically but then Robes has come on the field and said ‘we’re alright here, we’re going to win this game’, and we’ve gone and done it.

“The ball went up and I thought that I’d take that nine times out ten and then I dropped it and I was just thinking, ‘what have I done?’

“It felt reminiscent of the Samoa game where I knocked on and ‘I thought I’ve done it again’ to a similar group of lads who’ve worked so hard, then I’ve gone and bombed it again. Then Doddy has come up with a magical play after Konnie’s big hit and the rest is history isn’t it.

“It’s a different type of feeling because this is club rugby and that was international. The international game is so important and it was a massive spectacle, but this is just as big of a spectacle and it puts Super League back on the map. To come here and play the two time back to back champions on their own patch 24 hours away from home is pretty special.”

He also spoke of the battle with Nathan Cleary: “Obviously you see some of the highlights of his kicking game so soon as he touched the ball I just followed him, he can kick at any time and any point.

“He nearly got a 40/20 but Percival at make shift winger saved it as a big play, he put a bomb up in extra time that Perc took as well which is another big play. I think we just got on the right side of him tonight, very fortunate in some ways but also from turning up and working hard as a back three.”

The big narrative going into the game was Phil Gould writing the Saints off saying Penrith would be able to declare the the break.

Welsby revealed the role this played in Saints’ preparation: “I think a few of the boys have read into it, we’re all over social media. Wello is a brilliant speaker, it’s one of the best assets that he’s brought in with the way he talks. We talked about 150 years of Saints and tonight was the biggest night of the whole thing.”

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