Paul Wellens doesn’t want “vilification” of John Asiata ahead of Challenge Cup Final

Leigh Leopards and Hull KR are set to meet in the Challenge Cup Final today after defeating St Helens and Wigan Warriors in fantastic semi finals held at the homes of Leeds Rhinos and Warrington Wolves.

However, they were both hit by controversy. Hull KR’s win was perhaps helped by a red card for Joe Shorrocks and St Helens were doing it tough when John Asiata’s tackle technique injured four players ending the seasons of Agnatius Paasi and Alex Walmsley.

After the game, Paul Wellens said Paasi’s knee had been “blown to smithereens” as he slammed the decision not to ban Asiata accusing the RFL of not protecting his players.

After the comments they have been referred to the RFL’s compliance board. On this he said on Saints TV: “I’m not surprised. I’m surprised more around the timing.

“I said what I said over two weeks ago now so it’s took a bit of time there but there’s obviously reasons for that.

“I’m not surprised about it but it doesn’t make me detract from I said. I said what I said, I’ve carefully thought about what I said and I believe in what I said so I’ll leave that with the complaints department.

“If any charges are filed or I need to go and stand before anybody and explain my comments then I’m more than happy to do that.”

Asked about whether he feels tackle technique has improved, he said:

“Progress in the fact that I think there’s some recognition that some of the tackling techniques used within the game need to be looked at for the benefit of player safety.

“So yeah, that’s where I feel progress has been made. However, it doesn’t help us. We have two players missing for a long period. But I don’t want to go over all ground here.”

He also was adamant that he didn’t want to start a vilification of Asiata:

“I don’t want it to become a vilification of one player. Leigh are playing in a Challenge Cup final this week. They need to be left alone to do that. They’ve earned that opportunity. A wonderful team, great club, who are having the biggest day in their history in 50 years.

“So I don’t want to stand here and say anything that’s going to detract from that. Good luck to Leigh, good luck to Hull KR, I’ll be sat watching. I hope it’s a great occasion for both clubs.

“I don’t want anything that I say here to detract from that, and detract from what is the most important thing in the Rugby League calendar this week, and that’s the Challenge Cup Final.”