Paul Wellens should become a Super League record breaker on Friday
By James Pearson (@SportsPeo). Last Updated: 10/04/14 3:49pm
On Friday ‘Mr St Helens’ Paul Wellens is set to break Super League’s record for most appearances when he takes to the field for the 414th time against Castleford Tigers.
It was 16 years ago in June 1998 that a teenage Wellens signed for Saints. Two months later he made his debut off the bench in a 36-6 success over Halifax Blue Sox.
Wellens was given more responsibility by coach Ellery Hanley in 1999. His versatility impressed all. That year he started three matches at full-back, once on the right wing, twice at right centre, once at left centre, seven times at scrum half and even once as hooker.
Success swiftly followed. Wellens came off the bench in the ’99 Grand Final, helping St Helens secure a nail-biting 8-6 triumph over Bradford Bulls at Old Trafford.
The club were back in Manchester a year later and following a full season at full-back Wellens played a key role in their 29-16 success over Wigan Warriors.
The trophies kept coming. Saints beat Brisbane Broncos in the 2001 World Club Challenge and toppled Bradford Bulls 13-6 at Twickenham in April.
Wellens was selected by Great Britain to compete in the 2004 end of season Tri-Nations tournament. The home nation reached the final, but Wellens and co were unable to prevent Brian Noble’s men suffering a 44-4 loss to Australia in the final at Elland Road.
Super League: 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006
Challenge Cup: 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008
World Club Challenge: 2001, 2007
League Leaders' Shield: 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
In 2006 Wellens won the Man of Steel Award, Players' Player of the Year, Rugby League Writers' Player of the Year, Saints' Official Player of the Year and Saints' Supporters Player of the Year.
Wellens has been a mainstay in St Helens’ line-up right up to the start of the 2014 season when the club finally gave his No 1 jersey to Jonny Lomax, although he retained the captain’s armband.
In all Wellens has made 413 Super League appearances for Saints, equal with Keith Senior. He has won the Grand Final four times, World Club Challenge twice and Challenge Cup five times.