SAINTS assistant coach Paul Wellens has never wanted a team to win a trophy more than he wanted the crop of 2019 to win on Saturday.

The full back legend said the team that has dominated all year, not only got its just reward at Old Trafford, but in doing so answered those big game question marks once and for all.

The team of 2019, unbeaten playing in the north of England, only lost three Super League games - but Wellens admits they learned plenty from the big defeat at Wembley and praised the players' response.

Wellens said: "People have given this team a lot of credit this year off the back of going on and winning games.

"But sometimes you learn lessons from the times when it does not quite go well.

"The way the boys responded from that Wembley defeat has been immense; it was a case of learn lessons from it and continue to work hard as ever.

"We came into the final under pressure because we had finished 16 points clear, so to produce what they have on the biggest night of all is a credit to them as a group."

Saints have led from the front all year - from that opening game against previous champions Wigan.

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But as the season progressed and that gap widened at the top between Saints and the rest, the attention has been split between the battle at the foot of the table, then looking at who would make the top five, Wigan's revival in the latter half of the competition and then, of course, Salford's march to Old Trafford.

But Wellens did not believe that will have harmed them going into this one to have the focus on the opposition.

"Sometimes you can get a little frustrated as a group, that the attention is elsewhere, but on the other hand it is also nice to fly under the radar a little bit," he said.

"I think that is what we have been doing, despite being so dominant in the Super League campaign."

Wellens, speaking in the tunnel an hour after the game, was beaming with delight for his hometown team's success - pleased for the team, the departing coach and the supporters.

"I can’t speak highly enough of these guys as a group," he said.

"I have played in a lot of fantastic Saints sides myself, but I came here tonight not wanting a team to win a game as much – even when I played – because of what they have produced this year, they have deserved it so much.

"You never question their effort, their heart and commitment.

"That willingness to stay out there when you are busted – that is what is needed in big games at times and to a man they stood up with a huge effort.

"It is brilliant that we can send Justin home as a Grand Final winner but it is brilliant that we are bringing the trophy back to St Helens for the first time in five years.

"A lot gets mentioned about this group and its inability to win big games – we have to accept that we have not done well in those pressure scenarios in recent years.

"But in the play-offs, beating Wigan and then Old Trafford, we have answered those questions tonight.

"Sometimes when you are so dominant like we were in that first 25 minute period you can start to lose a bit of concentration and then all of a sudden the opposition can get their foot in the door and you are under pressure.

"That is what happened.

"But the way we responded from that; the way we accepted that Salford were a good side - was to knuckle down and work hard, just as we had done all year.

"That is what got us home in the end."