ASK any fan aged in their early 60s to pick an all-time Saints XIII and they will invariably pencil the name of John Walsh next to the number four slot.

He is our pick for Day 22 of our Great Saints for November series.

It is not hard to see why he was so admired. Walsh, who signed for Saints from Moss Bank ARL in April 1968, was a special player.

Described as ‘the brainiest player in rugby league’, on account of his BSc in mathematics and MSc in statistics, Walsh combined skill with a fearlessly combative physical approach to earn all the honours in the game before cutting short his sporting career just before his 29th birthday.

What do they say about good performers always leaving the audience wanting more?

A three-time champion – twice under the play-off system in 1969-70 and 1970-71 and once under the traditional league table system in 1974-75 – Walsh also starred in Saints’ Wembley win over Leeds in 1972, after scoring tries in all the rounds en route to the twin towers.

St Helens Star:

And 1972 was a big year for the former Grange Park pupil, culminating in playing a central part in Great Britain’s last ever World Cup triumph.

Great Britain went through that tournament unbeaten, winning all three group matches against Australia, New Zealand and France.

Although Tony Karalius had been in the squad for the tournament, Walsh was the only St Helens player in that final line-up against Australia in Lyon. The game was drawn, despite 20 minutes’ extra time being played, but Britain took the crown by virtue of the league position.

His final stats reveal 48 tries and 156 goals in 181 appearances for Saints; the 1975 Premiership Final defeat by Leeds being Walsh’s last match before hanging up his boots to concentrate on his career in insurance, eventually emigrating to Ontario, Canada..