SAINTS boss Nathan Brown believes skipper Paul Wellens has underlined this season why it was important to keep him at Langtree Park.
Brown stated that even people who had argued for the 34-year-old to have been released after he had lost his place at full back to Jonny Lomax can now see the value of the skipper’s experience and commitment to the red vee.
Wellens has been outstanding in rolling back the years at full back, and although Lomax will resume at number one on his return from injury, Brown will be keen to see that his captain can make his presence felt on the team from the off.
Brown said: “I have not professed to knowing our best team and we have had a difficult spell with people being in and out.
“But Wello understands what is required and when he speaks everyone should listen one of the reasons why we desperately wanted to keep him was that we know his commitment is very good.
“When we brought him on at Cas and Warrington we did better and there is a correlation between him being on the field and us performing well.
“He has not been on the field for the opening exchanges of some game that we have been at our worst. His leadership is one of the reasons we wanted to keep him as well as his versatility.
“Anyone who was critical of us keeping Wello can see why he is here now.”
With Super League having a selection of mid-30s players, it has become clearer that advances in conditioning techniques and sports science is helping some players to enjoy greater longevity in the top flight.
And with Saints having to still use a lot of young players, given the injury issues, it once again cries out for that old head on the park.
But Wellens is more than a steadying influence – he has the capacity to raise the bar for those around him and that has paid dividends in recent games.
“He competes hard from every minute he is on the field and that is where we need to get the whole squad. That helped him become the player he is, you don’t fluke being in the team of the century – your Wellos and Jamie Peacocks are rare people. Jamie is 36 and Leeds just keep signing him and he keeps playing well.
“Take JP away from Leeds and there would be a big void there, and Wello is filling a big void for us at the moment.
“How he can educate the young players and even some of the more experienced guys us really important,” said Brown,