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Paul Wellens speaks on Tonga after Shaun Wane criticism

St Helens coach Paul Wellens

The rivalry between Wigan Warriors and St Helens seems to be bleeding into the ongoing internationals between England and Tonga.

England are led by Wigan legend Shaun Wane and Tonga by former St Helens boss Kristian Woolf.

Wane seemingly took a shot at St Helens and Woolf when he said “half of St Helens” is working for Tonga.

He also said of Woolf – the first coach to win three consecutive Super League titles – that he “did okay” at St Helens.

Furthermore, when speaking to the BBC he underlined his confusion as Paul Wellens’ decision to join the Tonga set up a year after leaving the England set up.

Now Paul Wellens has spoken out about coaching Tonga on Saints TV:

“It’s a bit different. Obviously I’ve worked with England for the past seven or eight years, so it’s different, but I’m certainly excited by the opportunity to work with this group of players and the staff as well. I’ve got a relationship with Kristian that goes back a few years having worked together with St Helens for such a long time. I’m just excited to be part of it.”

On facing England, Wellens said: “Yeah it’s slightly different, obviously I know a lot about the England team and the players over here so I don’t have to do too much homework in that respect; but at the same time I know how good they are as well, they’re a quality team and certainly from a Tonga perspective we’re gonna have to play really well on the weekend so we’ll prepare the best we can.

“I’m sure it’ll be a fantastic game; obviously me being a St Helens boy seeing an international fixture played at our home stadium was something that I’m proud of as well.”

Wellens underlined the importance of international rugby league: “Yeah absolutely. I’ve been hugely passionate about the International Rugby League throughout my whole career, whether that be as a player or as a coach, it should be the pinnacle of every player’s career to represent their country.

“I think you’ll see that on show at the weekend, two teams passionate about playing for their countries and representing them in the best way possible.”

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