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Paul Wellens recalls “emotional rollercoaster” week and outlines plans for future

St Helens Paul Wellens

St Helens defeated Leeds Rhinos last night in a bruising encounter to top off what has been a difficult week for the Saints, but they ended it on a high with the win taking them level on points with historic rivals Wigan Warriors.

The pre-match talk surrounded how Saints would bounce back from their semi-final defeat to Leigh, not just in the nature of losing such a big game but also the personnel that they lost.

Both Agnatius Paasi and Alex Walmsley landed season-ending injuries in that game and it prompted an emotional response from Paul Wellens who called on RFL action, claiming they’d failed in their protection of players by allowing Leigh skipper John Asiata to go unpunished.

Wellens confirmed again last night that there have been discussions between himself and the RFL, albeit the RFL’s public stance is that no changes will be made mid-season but tackling technique could be looked at in the off-season.

After the game Wellens spoke to the Sky Sports team with presenter Brian Carney clearing sensing the relief and emotion of the Saints boss, he asked him a simple question – ‘are you ok?’

“I’m good, I’m good. Look, it’s an emotional rollercoaster,” Wellens responded.

“I’m invested in this team, I’m invested in this club and invested in this town so it’s always going to be that way but I’m so proud of the playing group today with how they’ve responded after a really difficult week.

“I could see it in their eyes all week, they’ve channelled their emotions in the right way. We were all upset, we were all frustrated about things that happened last weekend but ultimately you have the decision to make as an individual, and as a team, and what these guys have done is got their head around what needed to be done to perform well.”

That victory took Saints level on points with Wigan Warriors, with a goal difference discrepancy of just seven points as well, whilst they’re four points shy of league leaders Catalans.

Some had suggested that the injuries to Paasi and Walmsley had dented the Saints’ chance to make it five in a row, but interviewer Carney flipped it by asking if they were now a “more dangerous beast”.

Wellens responded: “Potentially, but one thing that this season has shown is that there’s plenty of ups and downs so we can’t get carried away. This is a fantastic result but I think there’s some elements of the performance that we can improve on.

“It’s just a great response from last week. It’ll take a bit of getting over this game, but we’ll look to solve it next week.”

Going again next week has been put on hold with Wellens confirming that the club have opted not to immediately review the game given the emotional toll of the past week.

“What we’ve purposely done tomorrow is that we’re not going to review the game as a team in the morning because it’s been an emotional couple of weeks, so I’ll do the same myself.

“We’ll take stock of the situation and then assess the performance, see where we can improve and look forward to next week.”

They next face Salford Red Devils in Super League a week on Sunday, providing them with plenty of rest before they have to go again.

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