Jack Welsby shared his emotions following St Helens’ World Club Challenge victory, admitting he thought he had cost his side the game following his mistake at the back.
The opposition had the likes of NRL champions Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai, but it was 21-year-old Welsby who stole the headlines in Australia.
He scored the first try of the tie before assisting Konrad Hurrell for the club’s only other four-pointer. And in defence, Welsby denied first-half tries for Cleary and Brian To’o with fantastic efforts.
His only mistake came in the last minute, dropping a Cleary bomb that allowed Penrith to take the game into golden point extra time.
However, half-back Lewis Dodd held his nerve to kick the match-winning drop goal, having seen his first attempt penalised for a block.
Jack Welsby: This is the best group in the world”
“It’s just everything we deserve,” Welsby said in his post-match interview.
“This is the best group in the world and we proved it tonight. I’m just so buzzing to be with these lads.
“I’ve gone through every emotion in that last five minutes. I thought I had done it again, knocked on in another game like I did for England.
“Just to get through the other side and have special half-backs in Jonny (Lomax) and Doddy (Lewis Dodd) to come up with a play like that after what we’ve gone through in that game. It’s unbelievable.”
Welsby was awarded with the player of the match at the BlueBet Stadium following his outrageous efforts. However, the rising star remained modest in his interview, praising the whole St Helens squad.
He continued: “I don’t think I deserve it. I think some of the stints our middle have done against the best pack in the world is unbelievable.
“I think Morgan Knowles has done close to 80 minutes, James Roby has done the exact same and Curtis Sironen on the edge. It’s just a group effort and I’m just so proud to be a part of it.”
St Helens defy the odds
Bookmakers had Penrith at 1/10 favourites, with St Helens massive underdogs heading into the tie. But Welsby said that he had no doubts his side could pull of a historic win.
St Helens become only the second side to win the title in Australia. Wigan last achieved the feat in 1994, defeating Brisbane 20-14.
“We’ve done it four times back home and we were under no illusion that we could come here and do it,” Welsby said. “We kept quiet about it and we fancied ourselves tonight and we’ve gone and proved it.
“But don’t get me wrong, it was probably the toughest game I’ve ever played in.
“Penrith are an outstanding outfit and were rightly favourites for the game, but I knew what we could do and we’ve gone and done it.”
— Love Rugby League (@loverugbyleague) February 18, 2023