St Helens legend Paul Wellens is set for his dream job as he takes over his boyhood club in 2023 with a two-year deal.
Though his job may seem easy given the Saints are the reigning Champions of the last four years. However, it is always difficult to keep the Champions ahead of the chasing pack, but Wellens has named the players who he thinks will make his life easier in the hotseat:
“I think they’re crucial. When James Roby decided he was going to play another year I was delighted because I think me stepping into a head coach role and having him there will make me settle into my role a lot quicker.
“It’s not just James, there’s a lot of players who have been in their roles for a long time, Jonny Lomax, Alex Walmsley, Tommy Makinson and Mark Percival. They understand what the club is all about. I played with them as well and having that close connection with the playing group will help.”
However, despite the obvious quality held by these men, Paul Wellens is excited about one particular area he believes he and new assistant Laurent Frayssinous can improve in 2023: their attack.
“It does excitement me,” Wellens said, “Laurent coming in as an assistant coach one of the tasks he’s been charged with is to look where he can develop our attack. I think we have got improvements there.
“We have been hampered there a lot this year, such as the loss of Lewis Dodd. When you lose a player like that it hurts your attack but we have got improvement in us.”
Wellens also explained why he appointed Frayssinous: “When I thought about bringing in an assistant coach, there were a few things I wanted really and one was I wanted someone who had Head Coach experience as I haven’t and Laurent has at Catalans.
“He’s someone who is really passionate about rugby, when I sat down and spoke with him the first think that struck me was his passion about rugby league.
“The last thing was, I was conscious that I had been promoted from within in and a lot of stuff around the club which have been here a long time, with a playing group that has also been together a long time, a fresh pair of eyes may be what the club needs.”
It is this freshening up that may be vital as the Saints try to keep ahead of their competitors as Wellens underlined the need to keep improving: “It’s certainly going to be tougher because our competitors, our closest rivals are going to continue to strive to improve and get better.
“Sometimes that striving for improvement is easier when you’re not winning and sometimes what can happen when you do win a lot complacency can set in. So, as long as we’re aware of that as an organisation we can continue to try and find those improvements and there’s certainly improvement in us.
“When you stand still, people will go passed you.”
It must be said it’s refreshing to see more British coaches appointed in top jobs in Super League such as with Matt Peet at Wigan.
Wellens shared this view: “I think that’s the case, people are more confident to appoint British coaches and long may that continue. Sometimes we can do ourselves a disservice in this country by thinking we’re not quite where we need to be in terms of the levels of coaches we have.
“We’ve got a wealth of talent in terms of coaching as a country and it’s something we should champion.”