Paul Wellens wants St Helens to prove Super League quality to Aussie doubters
PAUL Wellens is a man on a mission and St Helens is a team on a mission – to prove the Super League is worth taking on the NRL.
Listen to a few and you’d wonder why the four-time champions bothered to fly to Australia to face Penrith in the World Club Challenge.
They think the Super League is vastly inferior, Saints whip boys and they should bow at the feet of the mighty Panthers.
But new coach and legend of the game, Wellens, is adamant that English football is worthy of the occasion – and people Down Under know it.
He said: “Sometimes maybe you can get that impression.
“But I know people who work within the NRL who have been in the Super League and seen the competition certainly think very differently having seen how we work here.
“So to experience the Super League and see what quality is over here certainly changes a lot of people’s minds.
“If we’re honest, the NRL as a whole has a lot more consistency in terms of competition, but that doesn’t mean we’re doing badly in the Super League.
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“The challenges we’ve faced as a club and how hard we’ve had to work to achieve our success over the last few years, I think reflects the strength of the Super League at the moment.”
St. Helens meets St. George-Illawarra in a warm-up game on Saturday, while Wellens kickstarts his career as head coach after winning five Super League titles, five Challenge Cups and two World Club Challenges as a player.
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But as they prepare in Sydney, where pretty much everyone is writing them off, he knows his players are hellbent on upsetting predictions.
He added: “It’s a different challenge because when I won it as a player, we played it in the UK so going Down Under is different.
“But one thing I do know about this group is that they love a challenge when the odds are against them.
“In everyone’s eyes we’re probably underdogs, but this group loves that kind of challenge.
“Often people compare Super League and NRL and whether players can play down there in this competition and vice versa.
“This is a great opportunity for us as a club to show how successful we have been and what a good team we are.
“I think we have the freedom to express ourselves and show who we are as a club.
“It almost feels like this group has to prove itself in a different way every year. Four straight wins are not enough to establish themselves as the best team in Super League history.
“But that’s what we want, we want to be challenged as a club again and again. It’s another way of proving ourselves.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/7326428/super-league-nrl-st-helens-england-australia/ Paul Wellens wants St Helens to prove Super League quality to Aussie doubters