Ranking St Helens’ next retention priorities after Alex Walmsley deal

Ben Olawumi
St Helens

St Helens players celebrate a win in 2024

Of the 13 St Helens players that remained off-contract at the beginning of today, Alex Walmsley would have been top of the priority list to get tied down.

That task has now been ticked off the list, and as announced tonight, ‘Big Al’ is sticking around at the Totally Wicked Stadium until the end of the 2026 season.

With Walmsley done and dusted, we’ve ranked the top five remaining off-contract players in order of who the Red V should prioritise getting a new deal put in front of and signed.

5. Ben Davies

Ben Davies
Ben Davies

Davies will turn 24 later this month, and is yet to cement a spot in Paul Wellens‘ 17, let alone 13. That said, having debuted back in 2020, he’s definitely the one out of the ‘young’ players that are off-contract who they should be offering a deal to, providing he wants to stick around of course. The centre – who can also play in the halves or out on the wing – has been Wellens’ unused 18th man in all bar one game so far this year.

4. Konrad Hurrell

If it’s a choice between offering Davies a contract or fellow centre Hurrell, we’d prioritise the latter. The Tonga international will turn 32 in August, and even if the legs aren’t quite there as much anymore, the brain certainly still is. His experience is incredibly beneficial and it’s rare that Hurrell lets Saints down. Not quite aging like a fine wine, but a valuable member of Wellens’ squad.

3. Jon Bennison

Now we’re into territory where we really would start prioritising a new deal. Bennison has cemented his spot as a starter in the Red V’s 13 now, and with Tommy Makinson seemingly set to leave at the end of the year, it looks certain to stay that way if the 21-year-old signs a new deal.

2. Sione Mata’utia

Sione Mata'utia St Helens Alamy
Sione Mata’utia

Mata’utia seems to have been around forever, but he only turns 28 in June. The ex-Australia & Samoa international is a key cog in the Saints machine. Hailed by boss Wellens after the recent Good Friday victory against Wigan Warriors, Mata’utia is the definition of a utility player, seamlessly slotting in anywhere. Tie him down, now.

1. Lewis Dodd

The absolute number one priority should be Dodd, and we imagine it will be. Saints assistant Matty Smith has already detailed that the academy product has transformed his game this year with tweaks made in the team’s attack to allow that to happen. Dodd has attracted NRL interest, and that says all you need to know. A bright future awaits, wherever he plays his rugby.

St Helens’ off-contract players: The full list of the remaining 12

Tommy Makinson, Waqa Blake, Jon Bennison, Lewis Dodd, Sione Mata’utia (one-year extension option), Ben Davies, Sam Royle, Konrad Hurrell, Jake Burns, Ben Lane, McKenzie Buckley, Will Roberts (one-year extension option)