A SAINTS fanatic who found love had a little help from Hollywood film star Russell Crowe.

Paul Corrigan's wife to be Sarah ran the Gladiator star’s UK fan website - and it was through this she got to know about the actor’s ownership of top Australian rugby league club South Sydney Rabbitohs.

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And when the Rabbitohs signed one of Britain’s top rugby league players Sam Burgess from Bradford Bulls, she thought she would find out what all the fuss was all about so opted to watch his debut Down Under on TV while messaging on social media.

And that’s where romance all started for nurse Paul and adult education teacher Sarah, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

She followed the views of passionate rugby league fan Paul on Facebook, which were so insightful about the game she knew nothing about she assumed he was from St Helens in Tasmania 10,800 miles away and was at the 2010 match – not 160 miles away in the north west of England.

Paul, aged 37 likewise assumed Sarah was messaging from Newcastle, New South Wales.

St Helens Star:

Paul and Sarah both believed the other was on the opposite side of the globe

They eventually realised they were both in England – and seven years later after Paul switched jobs to work at Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary they married and set up home together in Newcastle.

Now Paul has won £1,000 after being chosen as the Betfred Super League’s latest super fan putting him in with a chance of winning £10,000 as the sponsors official 2019 superfan.

Betfred boss Fred Done, who has helped in the selection of the eight £1,000 winners, said: “What a lovely modern day love story!

"Paul has a lot to live up to mind you with a Hollywood star and big Sam Burgess playing such a part in Sarah’s life. No prizes for guessing where they will go on holiday if they pick up the big prize on Betfred Super League Grand Final day on October 12, Australia of course!"

Paul said: “I have been a Saints fan since my mid-teens, rarely missing a game – even though I know I live up here. Sarah is a St Helens fan now as is our young daughter Grace and 16-year old stepson Harry. Whenever we go to games we all have our faces painted.”

His successful nomination reads: “I've loved Rugby League for many years.

"Followed my team home and away, through the ups and downs. Rugby League brought my wife and I together living in different parts of the UK and therefore otherwise having absolutely no chance of meeting. Every match day we get ready early, kids get faces painted.

"We decorate the whole house and car for derbies and finals. My desk at work is covered in my team colours much to the chagrin of my colleagues. I date everything by who won the cup and league and how we got on that year.

"I have a wall with my prized possession is my jersey from our last year at Knowsley Road signed by the entire squad framed with the certificate of attendance at our last game - and the last fan and team photo, a painting of Knowsley Road signed by the squad and the commemorative picture from the first game at our new ground Langtree Park not forgetting my seat from the stand at Knowsley Road which my wife had made into a chair nobody is allowed to sit on bar me. I'm the ultimate fanatic.”

St Helens Star:

Paul and Sarah, with Grace and Harry

About their long distance romance, Paul added: “It is odd how things work out but I remember commenting that Sam Burgess on debut was trying a bit too hard and she wanted to know what I meant. I thought she was in Australia and she assumed I was at the actual match but by the end we had worked it out.

"We were Facebook friends and didn’t meet up for five years. We talked about all sorts including rough patches in our personal lives as we messaged each other …not just about rugby league although that did figure.

“When I first went to see her in Newcastle she was playing in a park with Harry. I’d told her about my car, a red Fiat 500 which she recognised. Our relationship was all very platonic so we didn’t kiss, but two years later we got married! We’re over the moon with the £1,000 which we’ll use to pay for a posh hotel when we go to London for the Saints-Warrington Challenge Cup final later this month.”

Sarah, 49, added: “Russell Crowe is an amazing actor who starred in Gladiator wearing a skirt. Paul had a kilt on for our wedding reflecting his Irish heritage which is as close as comparisons go. I have always thought Paul looks quite cute. I was curious about Sam Burgess playing his first game for Rabbitohs not because of the game but because it was Russell Crowe’s club and thought there might be some shots of him on TV in the crowd – and that’s the only reason I watched it.

“I was curious about Paul who was messaging about the game that was broadcast very early here and assumed he was an Australian actually there, not a fan at home in St Helens.

"Maybe if we win the £10,000 we can go to Australia …and I just might get to meet Sam and Russell who have played such a big part in us getting together.”