St Helens boss Paul Wellens adds hot prospect to first-team setup for 2024 following notable League 1 loan

Ben Olawumi
Paul Wellens

St Helens head coach Paul Wellens

St Helens have promoted promising hooker Jake Burns up to the first-team squad for the 2024 season on the back of an impressive stint out on loan in League 1 with North Wales Crusaders.

23-year-old Burns first linked up with the Saints on a three-month trial in January 2022 having being picked up playing open age for Widnes-based amateur outfit Halton Farnworth Hornets.

Successfully coming through that trial, the youngster joined the club’s reserves for the season and shone bright, earning the Saints’ Reserves Player of the Year Award for 2022 in his debut campaign.

And this year, alongside taking place in first-team training, Burns featured eight times out on loan with the Crusaders as they reached the play-off final in League 1, falling at the final hurdle to Doncaster. He scored three tries in those eight games, all of which coming against Midlands Hurricanes.

On the back of an impressive 2023, Red Vee chief Wellens has now promoted Burns up to the first-team setup on a permanent basis at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

St Helens add young gun Jake Burns to first-team setup for 2024

Speaking to the club website on the decision, Wellens said: “Jake has shown fantastic application since coming into the club as part of our reserves side.

“Since then, he’s focused on improving his game, and becoming a full-time player will certainly go a long way to doing that, as will working alongside the likes of Daryl Clark and Moses Mbye.

“We always want good people to part of our playing group, and Jake fits that bill 100%. We’ve enjoyed working with him when he’s come into the first-team environment, and will continue doing so in 2024.”

Meanwhile, the player himself expressed just how excited he was about getting the chance to learn from the more senior figures around him, adding: “I’m over the moon and thankful for the opportunity, I just can’t wait to get started now!

“To be offered a full-time contract feels really special. I’m excited to take the leap, it is something you dream of when you’re a kid – to get that chance.

“It’s exciting to be able to work with the likes of Daryl (Clark), he’s a new face and I’m looking to learn off him. From the time I’ve been in with the lads already, it has been great.

“They all work really hard, so hopefully by being around them more, I’ll thrive and fit right in.”

READ NEXT: Super League ins and outs for 2024 – Every confirmed signing and departure