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Paul Wellens excited by chance to assist England's World Cup campaign
SAINTS skipper Paul Wellens will assist the England coaching staff during this autumn’s Rugby League World Cup.
Wellens was asked to bring his wealth of international experience to the table by England boss Steve McNamara.
And the veteran of two previous World Cup campaigns – in 2000 and 2008 – jumped at the chance to be part of a landmark event for the 13-man code, which kicks off at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on October 26.
Wellens said: “Steve Mac asked me if I wanted to help out, meeting up for the captain’s run the day before the game and on matchday assisting and running the messages.
“He said he wants someone who the players respect, who can deliver the message and know what he is saying.
“He told me to go away and think about it but it was a no-brainer really because it is so exciting to be involved.
“I have done it as a player, but to be involved on the other side is a massive opportunity and I am really looking forward to it.
“I am very keen to get involved in the coaching side of things when I finish playing.
“I spoke to Jon Wilkin and James Roby, who have been involved in the England squad for the four years since I left, and they said how much it has improved and how professional it is.
“The World Cup is huge and has been on the horizon for a long time now. The England squad is very strong – stronger than we have had for some years and it is something to be excited about.”
England, with James Roby the sole Saints representative, face Australia, Ireland and Fiji in the group games.
Long-standing England ETS member Wilkin misses out after spending all season playing out of position.
It is a sacrifice Wellens believes his teammate deserves acknowledgement for.
“Jon has been fantastic for us this year, playing out of position and in the past that might have been ok.
“But given the number of emerging back rowers in the game it made it very difficult for him to play all this year in one position and then get picked for England in another.
“I think we owe Jon a real debt of gratitude for the job he has done this year, because he has sacrificed his own gain and ambition for the good of the club.”
Aside from Roby, Saints have a number of other players on World Cup duty with Anthony Walker joining the Welsh squad, Anthony Laffranchi teaming up with Italy and Willie Manu currently in the Tonga provisional squad. Samoa are yet to finalise their squad.