Paul Wellens reflects on Grand Final heartache against Leeds Rhinos but believes it has made St Helens stronger

Paul Wellens is set to take the reigns as St Helens boss in 2023 as he hopes to lead the Saints to a fifth consecutive Grand Final win.

For Wellens, winning five in a row would somewhat balance out the heartache of losing five in a row as a Saints player from 2007-11.

That of course didn’t damage Wellens’ status as a legendary player at the club having won the 2000, 2002, 2006 and 2014 Grand Finals as well as a number of Challenge Cups and the Man of Steel, Lance Todd Trophy and Harry Sunderland Award.

He has also been a crucial member of the backroom staff at the club as they have chased down success in the last five years under Justin Holbrooks and Kristian Woolf.

Now it’s his turn but he doesn’t want to forget the pain of the past and believes the lessons learnt by that St Helens team are still present in the club today.

“We made six consecutive Grand Finals from 2006 to 2011 and I was involved in all of those. We won the first one against Hull FC and then lost five loses on the run so it was a difficult time for us as a club but I was hugely proud of a team that kept getting back there, kept fighting. The resilience the team showed in that period of time is still evident today,” Wellens said.

“Obviously four of those losses were against Leeds who were hugely successful and had some brilliant players, Rob Burrow, Danny McGuire, Jamie Peacock and Kevin Sinfield to just name a few. We knew we were up against it every time we played against Leeds given their quality and unfortunately we didn’t get the results.

“Sometimes you learn more from big losses than you do from being successful and the resilience we have in the side now comes from experiences like that.”

Wellens was Speaking on Channel 4’s brilliant retrospective of the Super League season which included unseen clips from the Grand Final and they will show Wellens’ first game in charge of the Saints as his team contests a World Club Challenge in Australia against Penrith Panthers.

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