St Helens prop Alex Walmsley gave a powerful interview fuelled by emotion and pride after their historic World Club Challenge victory.
The Super League champions became the first British club to win the World Club Challenge on Australian soil on Saturday. The Saints beat Penrith Panthers 13-12 thanks to a drop goal from Lewis Dodd in golden point extra-time.
Walmsley, who is in his 11th season with Saints, delivered an emotional speech after the full-time hooter in Penrith. Here’s a full transcript of what he had to say…
For me this is the best. We’ve achieved some incredible things over the last four years but I’m not going to undersell this, this is the greatest achievement of our team, but also the club’s history.
To come over to the NRL against the back-to-back champions, the best team over here, and to get a result on their own patch in those conditions… I’m not going to undersell it, it’s one of the greatest achievements in our sport, for Super League, for St Helens and for English rugby league.
Proving the critics wrong
I need to choose my words wisely here but we came over here with absolutely no chance given whatsoever. There was probably 17 men in there plus coaching staff and 800 fans who believed in us and I think the rest of the world gave us no chance whatsoever, which we embraced and acknowledged. We came over with the attitude to show everyone what we’re about.
I keep rehashing it but for us to do it over here, there’s no excuses for them to say they didn’t take it seriously. You go into their changing rooms and you tell me they didn’t take it seriously. There’s always that underpinned attitude about this game but we’ve done it on their side of the world. It is a massive ‘get that into ya’.
Defying the odds
I’m not going to judge anyone for giving those odds. They are back-to-back champions and they’ve been the best team in the NRL, the best league in the world, for two years straight and no one touched them. Rightly or wrongly, we were given those odds.
Doing it for English rugby league
But for us, we’ve got such a belief and inner strength of what we’re capable of and what it means to us. We believed that we could come over here and do it. 13-12, I’m just genuinely so proud of our team but for our sport back home this is massive. For the Super League, for English rugby league, we don’t have the finances or infrastructures what you guys have, which you’ve earned over the last 30 years, so it means so much to us as a sport. We are a working class Northern sport that look after one another. We’ve done this for us, but we’ve also done it for English rugby league.
When we are done and retired, we will be able to say we did something special tonight.
What Alex Walmsley will remember this game by
I loved turning around seeing 800 St Helens fans behind the sticks who have paid so much money to come out here and support us. We are a working class town, we’re in a cost of living crisis not just in our country, but around the world. The fans have paid thousands of pounds to come out and support us. Seeing how much it means to them just goes to show what we bring to our town of St Helens in the north of England just means so much to those people. I’m happy.
St Helens will turn their attention on winning their fifth Super League in a row next week. They will begin their campaign away at Castleford on Sunday.