St Helens coach Paul Wellens says he hopes to sort out a new deal for key forward Sione Mata’utia ‘as quickly as possible’.
Former Australia and Samoa international Mata’utia is out of contract at the end of the season, but he revealed to the Mirror earlier this week that he wants to extend his stay with the Super League champions.
Mata’utia has spent the past three seasons in England with Saints, winning two Super League titles, a Challenge Cup and a World Club Challenge.
Mata’utia told the Mirror: “Hopefully I’ll put pen to paper this week with the Saints.”
‘Hopefully as quickly as possible’ – St Helens boss Paul Wellens on new deal for Sione Mata’utia
Wellens paid tribute to Mata’utia, who made more than 120 appearances in the NRL for Newcastle Knights before arriving at St Helens ahead of the 2021 campaign.
When asked about when Mata’utia’s new deal will be finalised, Wellens replied: “Hopefully as quickly as possible.
“I mentioned a few weeks ago that it was important we gave Sione and his family time to think about whether staying in the UK was something that they wanted to do and obviously he’s had those discussions now and it is starting to look quite favourable on our part that Sione wants to stay around a bit longer.
“I’m due to see Mike Rush (chief executive) in a minute, so if he can get that signed in the next hour, that’ll be nice!
“The sooner the better really because Sione is a brilliant person and a wonderful player.
“He’s really well liked and valued member of the group so we always want to keep those players around.”
Paul Wellens provides Saints recruitment update
Speaking in his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Wellens said the club are focused on retaining their best players rather than just looking to sign new players.
He added: “The main crooks of our recruitment for 2024 have been around retention and keeping our best players at the club.
“I am in constant discussions with Eamonn McManus (owner) and Mike Rush around where we can improve the squad, if we can improve the squad and what funds are available.
“We’ll never not look into that and see where we can improve but at the same time we are very happy with what we are putting together for 2024.”