My Ultimate Team: Paul Wellens selects his best 1-13 of players he’s played against including Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors legends

Aaron Bower
Paul Wellens' Ultimate Team

St Helens coach Paul Wellens is the next guest on Love Rugby League’s My Ultimate Team feature.

Wellens played against some of the greatest-ever players to play rugby league, meaning his team is, inevitably, somewhat star-studded. Featuring legends of the game in both Australia and England, here’s Wellens’ best 13, exclusively featuring players he played against during his own incredible career.


1. Kris Radlinski (Wigan Warriors)

Kris Radlinski Lancashire v Yorkshire War of Roses PA
Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Archive/PA Images

There’s three standout fullbacks I played against. One was Brent Webb, we were very different types of players but I loved playing against him and the other is Sam Tomkins. I was around 28 or 29 when he burst onto the scene and within a few weeks you knew there was a superstar there.

But early on in my career, the battles I had playing against Kris were brilliant. We became good mates, having shared a dressing room internationally, but we had some brilliant battles in the derbies. Those battles really stick out and Kris would get the nod.

2. Greg Inglis (Australia)

Greg Inglis will make his Warrington debut this weekend

Tevita Vaikona is someone I’d give a shout to – he was an unbelievable player. When we played at Bradford I always remember Ian Millward would talk about the threat of Tevita.

Playing internationally though, I remember playing a young Greg Inglis in 2006 and we all knew very little about him at the time and that was about to change. He would get the nod.

3. Gary Connolly (Wigan Warriors)

Gary Connolly Wigan Warriors Alamy

I played with Paul Newlove and Jamie Lyon, two world-class centres, and the two I’ve picked fall into that category. Gary is the first one, someone I grew up supporting as a Saints player and someone I’ve got to know really well. I was fortunate to play with him at international level and arguably one of, if not, Britain’s best centre. That’s how highly I regard him.

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4. Keith Senior (Leeds Rhinos)

Keith Senior Leeds Rhinos Alamy

Keith is the other centre. We played against each other so many times and Keith played a big part in what Leeds were about as a team, he was always a handful to go against.

5. Lesley Vainikolo (Bradford Bulls)

Lesley Vainikolo Bradford Bulls PA

The obvious choice. An absolute wrecking ball and so hard to handle. I’m going back a fair way there but his try-scoring record speaks volumes, it’s astonishing.

MORE ULTIMATE TEAM: Joel Tomkins names his greatest 1-17 of players he played alongside

6. Darren Lockyer (Australia)

Darren Lockyer Australia Alamy

I’d have to mention Danny McGuire, a constant thorn in our side. But I remember the 2004 Tri-Nations final when as a Great Britain team, I never thought we had a better chance of beating an Australia side.

We were 30-something points down at half-time and it was a Darren Lockyer masterclass. He tore us to shreds. Off the back of that performance and indeed his whole career, he would make the cut.

7. Rob Burrow (Leeds Rhinos)

Rob Burrow, 2015
Rob Burrow scores a try at Wembley in the 2015 Challenge Cup final, which Leeds Rhinos won 50-0 against Hull KR

You look at recent weeks and with his passing, that try at Old Trafford has been shown more times than I care to think. But Rob was so unique and I really enjoyed his company when we were on tour. I remember me, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Rob and Jon Wilkin went to visit Ramsay Street on a 2008 World Cup tour. We enjoyed some time away together but on the field he was a fearsome competitor.

I used to always say that Lesley Vainikolo was scary running at you, but not as scary as Rob running at you! He could change direction and not lose any speed and if you look at that 2011 try, he side-steps me but doesn’t lose any speed at all. I would lean towards Rob for this team because of how good a competitor he was, and how unique he was as a player.

READ NEXT: Standout moments as Leeds Rhinos celebrate life of Rob Burrow with unforgettable tribute

8. Stuart Fielden (Bradford Bulls)

Stuart Fielden Bradford Bulls PA

Off the back of our great battles we had with Bradford, Stuart would make the cut. He was the best prop in the world for a period and probably doesn’t get talked up as much as he should. He would play 75-minute stints, Brian Noble would take him off and he would be absolutely fuming: he was that type of guy.

But no-nonsense, really strong ball carrier.. I remember a World Club Challenge game against Wests Tigers and he destroyed them. Performances like that stand out for me, and he was a top competitor.

9. Terry Newton (Wigan Warriors)

Terry Newton Great Britain Alamy

Terry and Jimmy Lowes spring to mind here. Jimmy was a real crafty player, a tough player who had a short kicking game close to the line. He was a standout performer in that successful Bradford team.

But Terry was just a brilliant competitor. I remember those derby games, when they’re attritional, when I brought a kick return, Terry would often be the first person to meet you – and he did it in an uncompromising way. He’d leave one on you a little bit and I respect that! I lean towards Terry because of the nature of those Saints-Wigan games.

MY ULTIMATE TEAM: Paul Sculthorpe selects his best 1-17 including St Helens, Great Britain stars

10. Jamie Peacock (Leeds Rhinos)

Jamie Peacock, Leeds Rhinos, 2015

Jamie is the obvious, easy pick. A brilliant fella and a standout competitor. I’ve played against him a lot and hated it because he was never going to go away. But what a privilege to play with him for Great Britain – the great players make everyone around you better and I felt playing with Jamie Peacock made me a better player.

MORE ULTIMATE TEAM: Liam Farrell’s incredible 1-17 from players he’s played alongside

11. Gareth Ellis (Leeds Rhinos/Hull FC)

I loved playing with Gaz. He had success on both sides of the world and a bit like Jamie Peacock, when you played against him you knew he wasn’t going anywhere. You struggled to find a weakness in his game.

Not only that, he played so consistently well every week.

12. Andy Farrell (Wigan Warriors)

Andy Farrell Great Britain Alamy

He’s a loose by trade but I played with Andy when he played back-row in the 2004 Great Britain series, he is one of the best players I have ever played with. I remember walking into the 2000 World Cup squad and Andy was the captain, and I was in awe of his leadership and how demanding he was with the team.

I learned so much from him, and whenever we played Wigan in those days, 80 per cent of the conversation was about Andy and how we were going to stop him. In those big games, the leaders and big players come to the fore.

13. Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan Warriors)

Sean O'Loughlin
Sean O’Loughlin pictured during the 2020 Super League Grand Final, the last appearance of his career

This is so difficult, between Lockers and Kev Sinfield. Kev was so brilliant and could play anywhere, he played a lot in the halves for Leeds, but was pivotal in the success they had. His kicking game destroyed us at Old Trafford a number of times.

Lockers was a bit like Terry Newton, in those Saints-Wigan games he was right in the thick of it. He did all the tough stuff whenever he was asked to do it. It’s so hard, but I’ll off the back of the Saints-Wigan rivalry I’ll lean to Lockers – but I’ll apologise to Kev, I wish I could have 14 players in the team!

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