Heartbreaking does not even begin to describe St Helens’ agonising play-off semi-final defeat at Catalans Dragons last season.
A team who had won a record four successive Grand Finals saw the Super League trophy ripped from their grasp when Sam Tomkins weaved his way over the line for a dramatic late winning try.
But a new season has brought new hope for Paul Wellens’ Saints.
Club legends James Roby and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and fellow veteran Will Hopoate may have retired but Daryl Clark, Matt Whitley and Waqa Blake have arrived.
Homegrown products Jake Burns, Ben Lane, McKenzie Buckley, Dayon Sambou, Will Roberts, Jonny Vaughan, Noah Stephens and Leon Cowen will also feature in the first team squad this season.
Shaun Wane’s men won the series 3-0 and Welsby captained the team for the first time in the opening two tests when George Williams was suspended.
Welsby, regarded as the best young player in the British game, told Love Rugby League: “The way last season ended with Saints was tough to take.
“We managed to win 3-0 and I spoke to Waney shortly before we came into camp.
“Wigan had won the Grand Final and I said ‘I’ve had better weekends to be honest’.
“We had a laugh and I spoke about putting things right, which I definitely did because it was a brilliant three weeks.
“I then went away on holiday with my girlfriend but came back and started thinking ‘where did we go wrong with Saints?’
“I was racking my brains for a good couple of months, along with the other half-backs in the team, trying to figure out where we went wrong.
“I think we’ve been righting some wrongs in pre-season and just need to continue doing that heading into round one.”
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Welsby goes into the new season armed with a new, improved contract which keeps him at St Helens until the end of 2027.
The 22-year-old has made a total of 117 appearances for Saints, scoring 53 tries for the club.
“Yes, I suppose so,” said the imposing full-back.
Welsby outlines his personal drive to succeed in 2024
Welsby is a fierce competitor and has lofty ambitions for the year ahead.
“I just want to win another Grand Final, Challenge Cup and League Leaders’ Shield,” he added.
“If you’re not setting out to win them all, then you’re setting yourselves up to fail.
“You’ve got to want to win every game you play and I’m certainly not one of those people who leaves anything in reserve.
“I leave it all out there and do anything to get the results for me and the boys.”
St Helens hungry to regain Super League crown
Welsby has enjoyed a profitable pre-season and believes St Helens’ recent warm-weather training camp in Cyprus will benefit them when the new campaign kicks off.
He said: “It’s not just about having a camp abroad, but a good pre-season in general can give you a massive boost heading into a new campaign.
“I came back in one week before Christmas and was then straight back in on January 3, so I feel really fit and excited and I know a lot of the boys do.”
“Well yes, 100 per cent,” declared Welsby.
“We’ve brought in some really smart players and retained some class players, so I don’t see why not.
“We were unlucky last year in some aspects and have got to improve in other areas, but on our day we’ll beat anyone. We’ve just got to time it right.”