St Helens head coach Paul Wellens has highlighted the star quality possessed by Curtis Sironen after his impressive return to action in Friday’s victory at Warrington Wolves.
Australian Sironen was put back in from the off at the Halliwell Jones Stadium having missed the last five games through a recurring hamstring injury.
The back-rower was making just a second appearance since June 22, but had a big impact throughout and grabbed the first try of the game 12 minutes in, crashing over the line having been fed by Jonny Lomax.
In his pre-match press conference, boss Wellens spoke about the frustration around the big forward’s enforced absence in recent weeks, and was delighted he was back. After the 18-6 victory, that joy had only grown stronger.
Paul Wellens highlights importance of Curtis Sironen
Speaking post-match, Wellens said: “The plan was always to play Curtis on limited game time, and he started the game as well.
“We wanted to warm him up, play him and when he’d done his time he could come off rather than warm him up, sit him down for half an hour and then put him back out for half an hour – it just wouldn’t make sense.
“I had a chat with Sione [Mata’utia] in the week and he is fantastic in the way he approaches the situation. He was more than happy to do what’s best for the team, which was to go and play in the middle and I also thought he was outstanding.
“I’ve said this numerous times about Curtis, there’s not many back-rowers like him in the UK, there’s probably a lot more of them in the NRL.
“He’s 6ft 5in, quick, skilful and he’s just shown in the first half how threatening he can be. He’s been a wonderful player for us ever since he came to the club. He’s had his injury issues over the last few weeks, but the signs were there for how important he is to us.”
Sydney-born Sironen is in his second season at the club, joining ahead of last season from NRL outfit Manly Sea Eagles where he’d spent the last six years. Beforehand, the now-30-year-old spent five years with Wests Tigers down under, making his senior debut back in 2012. More recently, he signed a two-year extension to stick around at Saints until the end of 2025.
St Helens still in hunt for top spot
Tonight’s win means that Saints head into the final week of the season still sat on the same number of competition points as current table toppers Wigan Warriors.
The Red Vee have leapfrogged Catalans Dragons into 2nd on the ladder, though that may well only be the case until Saturday night when the French side host a struggling Leeds Rhinos.
Nonetheless, Wellens’ side are still in the mix to try and retain the League Leaders’ Shield, though he doesn’t see that happening. His side have a much inferior points difference to the Warriors, so would realistically need them to slip up in their final game at Leigh Leopards.
The Saints chief added: “I think we look at the situation and regardless of the results tomorrow, we are in a position where we can potentially win the League Leaders’ Shield with a win next week.
“If I’m honest, I feel like Wigan will win their last game, that’s just my gut feeling, so we’ll think about the situation over the coming days.
“We’ll have to get the guys medically checked and things like that, but we’re still in with a chance, so that’s something that excites us.”