Paul Wellens is facing the biggest job of his career.
Though on the face of it, it seems easy to take charge of the Champions who over the last five years have been the benchmark in the competition, it is tough finding ways to keep winning and to find a way to keep ahead of the chasing pack.
Adding to that, this is Wellens’ dream job as a man born in St Helens who has devoted his whole career to the club.
We have seen something similar before at St Helens, however, back when St Helens legend Keiron Cunningham took charge of the Saints just after they had lifted the Super League trophy under Nathan Brown in 2014.
A great coach, Cunningham failed to make a major final whilst in charge though he never finished outside of the all important top four.
However, a difficult start to 2017 saw him part company with the club as Justin Holbrook took over.
So, when Wellens was appointed as Head Coach this week, it naturally led to the question, will this be different to Saints under Cunningham.
When asked about this when introduced to the press, Wellens said he could understand why people were keen to make the comparison: “I can understand why people will draw comparisons, but at the same time I’m working with a very different group than he was. I’m working with a group that has been successful for three or four years.”
He also defended Cunningham’s time in charge noting that the Saints were very close to making it to the 2015 Grand Final: “A lot of people forget about Keiron as well was he was a Kevin Sinfield 40/20 away from making a Grand Final. How things could be very different, at the top end of this sport are very fine margins.”
Ultimately though Wellens made it clear that he is his own man with his own approach: “It’s not something I think about very much if I’m honest, I’m my own person. I’m not going to be like Kristian Woolf, I’m not going to be like Justin Holbrook. I’m going to bring what I can to the table.”