Jack Welsby: St Helens embracing underdogs tag in World Club Challenge
St Helens may won the last four Super League titles but they head into the World Club Challenge against Penrith Panthers as underdogs.
And star full-back Jack Welsby says his side are completely fine with that. In fact, he says the Saints are embracing being on the other side of the fence this time with no added pressure.
“I’ve been playing in Saints’ first team for four years now and I don’t think I’ve gone into a game as an underdog yet, so it makes a nice change,” Welsby told Love Rugby League.
“All the talk about how good Penrith are is positive for us. We know what we can do so we want to test ourselves against the best.”
The Super League champions take on their NRL counterparts Penrith on Saturday; and Welsby hopes St Helens can give a good representation of Super League this weekend.
When asked if he’d be hoping fans of other English clubs would get behind them on Saturday, Welsby replied: “I’d like to think so. But being a boyhood Wigan fan I know how hard it would be cheering on Saints on the other side of the world so we’ll take it with a pinch of salt!
“Hopefully we’ll put a good performance in and if we win, then it might just bring Super League to the level it should be. It’s always looked down upon. The NRL is such a big competition and Super League needs to be at that level. That’s what we are striving for.”
WCC: St Helens v Penrith Panthers: Squad news, TV coverage & predictions
The new boss at St Helens
Despite only being 21 years of age, Welsby has already played in three Super League Grand Finals and a Challenge Cup final, winning every one of them.
And now he is under the mentorship of St Helens royalty Paul Wellens, who was appointed head coach in October.
“It has been pretty seamless,” Welsby said of Wellens’ new role. “For me personally, it is like nothing has changed.
“There are a couple of new faces in and around the squad. Wello has a bit more of a voice. It’s not changed anything.
“Wello has got his own point of view and understanding of the game so he has been brilliant. I’ve loved having him as head coach. I’ve got every faith that we are going to do him justice this week.”
The World Club Challenge takes place at Penrith’s BlueBet Stadium on Saturday (6:50pm local/7:50am UK).
READ NEXT: Love Rugby League’s predictions for Super League 2023