‘You need to lose’ – St Helens’ adversity a positive test of character insists ex-player

Josh McAllister
Jack Welsby, Jon Wilkin, St Helens. SWPix

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Former St Helens back-rower and current Sky Sports pundit Jon Wilkin believes St Helens’ form in 2023 is a positive test of characters for the youngsters within the squad.

St Helens won the World Club Challenge over Penrith Panthers under head coach Paul Wellens in February, but they have claimed just four wins in eight so far in Super League.

The side have fallen to back-to-back defeats in somewhat recent unprecedented times for the four-peat champions, sitting outside the play-offs in eighth position.

Wellens’ side host Warrington on Thursday following defeats to Wigan and Hull KR respectively, while also falling short against Leeds and Leigh so far this season.

Speaking on Sky Sports Rugby League Verdict, Wilkin believes the recent adversity will only benefit the youngsters within the squad who have only known winning so far in their careers.  

Wilkin, now 39, made more than 400 appearances for St Helens in 16 seasons, winning four Challenge Cups, a World Club Challenge and a Super League Grand Final.

Jon Wilkin: I think long-term, this is going to be good for them

“I think for a side that’s not faced any adversity for nearly four years, this is a big test of their character, when you’ve not had to face the adversity of maybe a few defeats on the trot,” Wilkin said.

“St Helens are a bit broken at the minute, especially in the forwards. A lot of sides go through that in a year. It’s magnified because we want to make this a story that St Helens are on the slide, but I don’t think necessarily that’s true.

“I thought that some of the performances have not been up to par.

“When they get them players back, there’s every chance of seeing St Helens return to somewhere near their best form.

“But I think long-term, this is going to be good for them.

“You need to go through periods where it’s tough. You need to lose, you need to get beaten at Hull KR away, you need to be sat on a bus dejected, you need to be going back home and sulking for a weekend, because that is sport.

“The way that St Helens have cleaned up over the last four years is not reflective of how sport is.

“So for some of the younger players, Jack Welsby, Lewis Dodd, those kinds of players for St Helens, this is a huge moment in their career.

“Maybe the first time in their professional career that they’ve faced adversity on the field with the performances and a real learning experience for them all.

“I don’t believe it to be true that they’re on the slide. I think they’ll come back.”

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