Paul Wellens responds to potential punishment from RFL over John Asiata comments

After defeating Leeds Rhinos missing some key injured players St Helens defied the odds in last year’s Grand Final to win a fourth consecutive Grand Final and secure their place in history.

But winning a fifth Grand Final in a row under new boss Paul Wellens will arguably be even tougher now the club have suffered two more major injuries to Curtis Sironen and Will Hopoate.

However, the root of their injury crisis was the Challenge Cup semi-final defeat to Leigh Leopards who take on Hull KR tomorrow.

The Saints lost four players that day including Alex Walmsley and Agnatius Paasi who are out for the season.

The injuries came from John Asiata tackles and after the game Paul Wellens accused the RFL of not protecting his players.

He said Asiata was “out of control” and that Paasi’s knee had been “blown to smithereens.”

Following this, Wellens has been referred to the compliance board of the RFL and could face punishment.

Speaking on Saints TV, Wellens said: “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 if there has been any progress since he made the comments in terms of tackle technique, 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.

“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.”