St Helens have appointed Paul Wellens as Kristian Woolf’s successor in 2023 as the club chases a fifth consecutive title.
Wellens has been part of the club’s coaching team since 2015 when he became Player Performance Manager, working with the Academy and then the Reserves, before stepping up to be assistant coach at first-team level.
He has coached under an array of world class coaches including former Saints Justin Holbrook and more recently Kristian Woolf, playing a key role in the Club’s four Grand Final wins in a row and a first Challenge Cup for 13 years.
He has also worked under legendary coach Wayne Bennett for both Great Britain and England, including at the 2017 World Cup and home series win against New Zealand in 2018. More recently he has also worked under current England boss Shaun Wane for the past two and a half years.
Wellens, 42, who had a glittering playing career at the Saints, helping the Club win two World Cub Challenges, five Super League titles and five Challenge Cups during 495 appearances, beat off strong coaching competition for the role which included both young, up and coming as well as experienced personnel.
He has signed a two-year deal at the Saints, with the club having an option to extend his contract by a further year.
But will he be a success?
It is often difficult for legendary players to step into coaching as previously seen with Keiron Cunningham at St Helens.
Wellens’ former teammate Jon Wilkin explained why this is on Sky Sports:
“Some players go into coaching and they don’t get any respect what so ever. They don’t understand the man management side which is needed, the administration side of it.
“You’re a manager. When you’re a player, you’re not a manager. You don’t manage people. You can’t manage yourself half the time.”
However he doesn’t believe Wellens will have this problem:
“Paul Wellens has been dedicated to understanding the craft and managing people. I think he will be a success.
“The challenge is for St Helens, where do you go from where you are?”