St Helens Team of the Decade

Dominating the summer era since it began are reigning champions St Helens.

They recently swept all aside to gain their seventh Super League title in what was their most successful season to date, capping off another memorable decade.

So after careful consideration, I have selected their best team of the last 10 years…

Full-back – Paul Wellens

He was approaching the back end of his career but veteran Paul Wellens still enjoyed a consistent and successful decade.

He remained on the scene until 2015, when he announced his retirement, but still played some top rugby that earned him international caps as well as a Man of Steel award.

His kick returns were always special, as was his support play.

 

Wingers – Tom Makinson & Regan Grace

Makinson has become one of Saints’ greatest ever wingers in recent years. He certainly knows his way to the try line, with his acrobatic finishing catching the eye, but it‘a his support play that also makes him such a danger.

Tommy Makinson has a reputation as one of the best finishers in the game. Credit: Mark Cosgrove/News Images

Last season saw him top the try scoring charts with 23 while he also made a staggering 3803 metres. His speed, side-step and even kicking game has made Makinson an all-round danger as he remains among the best players Super League has to offer.

As for Grace, he edges out predecessor Adam Swift for one simple reason, he phased him out of the first team.

The Welshman has plenty of pace and a cheeky side-step that has seen him prove devastating on kick returns.

Earning himself an international spot, Grace still has more to offer in what is set to be an illustrious career for the 23-year-old.

 

Centres – Mark Percival & Josh Jones

Another two internationals to have graced the Saints’ lineup are Mark Percival and Josh Jones.

Percival has scored points for fun, with over 80 tries and 220 goals in his 150+ appearances.

Mark Percival has been one of Super League’s best centres for the last few years. Credit: News Images

He has also proved dangerous with his try assists, his side-step and pace catching the opposition off-guard, making him a ‘go to’ man in attack.

The same could be said of Jones, who made his name at the club after helping them to the 2014 title.

He showed how adaptable he was, rotating between centre and second-row in his 90+ appearances, producing some effective attacking rugby with his cheeky offload and ability take the ball in at pace.

 

Stand-off – Theo Fages

A very tricky choice but French international Fages is selected.

He arrived from Salford in 2016 and has forced his way into the side, becoming a regular first team player.

Last season alone saw him finish third on try assists with 22, owing to his delicate kicking game and tricky side-step, and had a huge hand in Saints’ Grand Final win.

 

Scrum-half – Jonny Lomax

As well as proving his worth as a utility back, Lomax has been very effective in the halves, leading the team around the field in attack.

His kicking game, speed and ability to duck under challenges has made him one of the decade’s top players.

 

Props – Alex Walmsley & Luke Thompson

They have had plenty of man-power going forward but the two juggernauts that stand out are Alex Walmsley and Luke Thompson.

Walmsley arrived from Championship club Batley in 2013 before quickly becoming a regular choice for Saints.

Alex Walmsley has won two Super League titles and been nominated for the Man of Steel award. Credit: Richard Long/News Images

Having topped the metre charts twice in that time, Walmsley was an obvious choice with his sheer power going forward, even battling some unfortunate injuries along the way.

As for local lad Thompson, perhaps his inclusion typifies how effective the club’s academy setup is.

His go forward has been exceptional to say the least and he’ll certainly be one to watch in the years to come.

 

Hooker – James Roby

Could anyone really deny Roby a spot in the team?!

The maverick hooker has served 16 seasons with the club, having won Man of Steel once and contested it on several other occasions.

He still possesses quick pace from dummy half that catches teams off guard, forcing them to remain extra alert at all times in case he creates space, which often happens regardless.

 

Second-row – Zeb Taia & Jon Wilkin

Another two seasoned players in our sport in Zeb Taia and Jon Wilkin.

Australian Taia was a gamble of a signing, having arrived in 2017 from Gold Coast Titans, but has not disappointed.

Zeb Taia has been a standout since signing for St Helens in 2017. Credit: Craig Milner/News Images

He has scored over 20 tries in just over 80 appearances for the club, having been a lethal back-rower in attack, with his dangerous offloading creating regular chances down the left edge.

As for Wilkin, now at Toronto, he enjoyed 17 seasons with the club, having been one of their most consistent players in both attack and defence.

His kicking game and support play off the ball was always spot on, as was his eagerness to tackle.

 

Loose-forward – Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook

His name might be a mouthful but the same could be said when describing his outstanding contribution to the club.

The 33-year-old has made over 270 appearances, scoring over 50 tries.

LMS has made over 250 appearances for Saints. Credit: Craig Thomas/News Images

Aside from statistics though, LMS has produced some special form for the club, acting as an extra prop when required as well as providing support for the back row. He’s become somewhat of a cult figure during his nine seasons with the Saints.

 

Coach – Justin Holbrook

Holbrook took the Saints from mid-table back to the top for consecutive seasons after taking over from Kieron Cunningham.

Narrowly missing out on Old Trafford in 2017 and 2018 under him, Saints would then break multiple records in 2019 in his final season, finishing top by a total of 16 points, recording 52 in total, the highest ever in Super League.

He reignited the dominance that temporarily deserted them, leaving behind a legacy that most coaches may find difficult to emulate.

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of