Paul Wellens: I would never have quit St Helens for NRL

Paul Wellens St Helens PA
Paul Wellens celebrating St Helens' Grand Final triumph in 2006

Paul Wellens says he has no regrets at turning down offers from the NRL during his trophy-rich playing career and never had any desire to leave his beloved St Helens.

The former Great Britain international played 495 times for his hometown club. He became only the third player to win the game’s most coveted individual honours; the Lance Todd Trophy, Harry Sunderland Trophy and Man of Steel.

One of the British game’s greatest ever full-backs, Wellens started and ended his career at Saints where he played with distinction between 1998 and 2015, but he admits there was the opportunity to sign for NRL clubs in the early part of his playing days.

“In 2004 there was interest in me going to the NRL and it was something I thought about,” Wellens reveals on this week’s Love Rugby League Podcast.

“But ultimately when I stripped it back, I was playing in a great team with great players and we were being successful. I had no real desire to leave as I was enjoying playing for my team, my town. 

“That was the only time it became an option. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving because I was so happy here. And I have remained happy here ever since so I don’t regret that decision at all.”

PODCAST: Paul Wellens on James Roby, England & coaching ambitions

James Roby could have played NRL, insists Paul Wellens


Wellens was speaking as part of a tribute to former team-mate James Roby. The latter will this week surpass Kevin Sinfield and become the leading appearance maker in Super League history. 

Like himself, Wellens says, one-club man Roby would have thrived in Australia had he ever wanted to leave St Helens.

“I am confident I could have played in the NRL, same with Roby,” Wellens adds.

“But sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. The success he has had I don’t think he will regret having stayed at this club.”

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