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CLUB legend Paul Wellens has announced his retirem

first_imgCLUB legend Paul Wellens has announced his retirement from Rugby League.Simply one of the greatest players in the history of St.Helens R.F.C. and the sport, he has been an integral part of the Club’s success over the last 20 seasons.Mr St Helens has played 495 times for the Saints, scoring 1,005 points and collected a whole host of personal accolades.As well as being part of Saints trophy laden success of recent times he won Man of Steel in 2006 to go alongside the Players’ Player of the Year and Rugby League Writers’ Player of the Year in the same season.In 2007 and 2008, he also took home the Lance Todd trophy in Saints’ Wembley successes over Catalans and Hull FC respectively.Representative honours total 31 for Great Britain and England with four for Lancashire.“I’ve had an ongoing hip problem for around 12 months and tried my hardest to battle on through,” he said. “I had injections last year to get through it – which was more than worth its while when you consider what we achieved – but in the early stages of this year I started to struggle with it again and that culminated with me leaving the field at Wigan on Good Friday.“I knew something was substantially wrong there and I want the fans to know I have exhausted every angle possible in trying to find a way to get fit and playing. I still feel I can offer a lot to the club if my body would allow me to but sadly I can’t.“It is the nature of the sport; I made my debut at 18 and played until 35 so in the grand scheme of things I can’t grumble.“I will now have substantial surgery on my hip as it is having an effect on my quality of life. Small things like being able to kick a football around with my son, I can’t do that so I have to get it right and focus on the next stage of my life.”He continued: “I’ve had a great career and I’m proud of my durability and longevity. I have had some luck with injuries but I’ve also had a really good record with the amount of games I have played. It’s frustrating as I am used to playing but I have not been able to do that.“I have a great relationship with Eamonn McManus, Mike Rush and Keiron Cunningham. They have been patient with me through this and I am looking forward to further working with them.“I’ve had a really good career and last season was a real highlight. I have met some great people, had great experiences and been in an environment which challenges me. I have played in a great town with great people.“I’d like to thank my family who have been a huge support to me and in particular my parents who have been a constant source of support and my wife Rachel. When you go through tough times like this, or go on tour, she bears the brunt of it and looks after our kids. A lot of people make sacrifices to do what I do.“I’d like to thank my teammates who have made my career very special. Win, lose or draw the people you meet, the people you play with make it special and they are friends for life.“Finally, I’d like to thank the supporters as without them we wouldn’t have a club. They have been phenomenal with me. In my career I have always done my best and I think the St Helens people appreciate that.“They don’t mind losing providing we try our best and I have always been very mindful of that when I pull on the Red V.”Paul made his debut against Halifax in 1998 and first captained the club in 2011.The pinnacle of that came in 2014 when the image of the then 34-year-old on his knees at the final whistle in the Grand Final spoke volumes for the man – and the fans too.Expected to be an observer with Jonny Lomax and co ahead of him in the 2014 squad, he played in a number of positions and emotionally captained Saints to Grand Final glory – after playing in the halves with Mark Flanagan for the majority of the match.Wellens is a true Champion and will no doubt be part of the club for years to come.Saints Chairman Eamonn McManus said: “Paul goes down as one of the greatest players and leaders in the history of the Club. He has won every honour in the game, and more, during his staggering seventeen years of success and the Saints.“In particular, I would point out his captaincy years. He assumed this at a very challenging time for the Club when we had lost a number of world class players who had either retired or had left the Club and at a time when we had the disruption of a year playing at Widnes and a then move to a new home in St Helens.“He drove the team and the Club forward and into a new era which started with a remarkable Grand Final win against the odds at Old Trafford last year. The emotion etched on his face at the end of that triumph will forever be remembered.“I’m sure that Paul will be integral to the future success of the Club in his new coaching career.”last_img read more