LAST year’s Grand Final match winner Jack Welsby made himself a big act to follow.

The 20-year-old famously chased Tommy Makinson’s drop goal attempt on the final hooter at the behind-closed-doors match at Hull.

And with full back Bevan French bamboozled by the bounce, Welsby was on hand to put the ball on the Wigan line to write his name into Saints folklore and into the terrace songbook.

This Saturday, Welsby will play a different role off the bench but the surroundings will be altogether different - and the newly-crowned Super League player of the year cannot wait.

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Welsby said: “It does not get much better to what I have had, coming into a superb Saints side and managing to get a spot in there.

“It has been perfect for me and the lads as well.

“Hopefully we can add another one to the list on Saturday.”

When success and adulation comes to a player at a young age, it can be a challenge to stay grounded.

But that is not something that has affected the former Blackbrook Royals junior who said: “If I look at the people around me, the likes of Jonny and Robes, that makes staying grounded pretty easy.

“There is that drive within the group to get as much success as we can together.

“There is a brotherhood running through us and we all work as hard as we can for each other to get the outcome we all want.”

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Welsby has kicked on this year - and added to his medal tally with a Challenge Cup triumph at Wembley.

A game-turner in that match was provided by Welsby’s introduction from the bench to replace the injured Theo Fages.

His ability to pick up in broken play and explore what was on set up the crucial score for Tommy Makinson, leading to another piece of silverware heading home to St Helens.

All this is adding further notches to the Welsby belt that will prove invaluable in future big games - especially on Saturday in the 1 v 2 Old Trafford showdown.

He said: “Experience in those big games is priceless; once you have played in one you know what you need to do and how hard you have got to work.

“Everyone that reaches the Grand Final is going to be a skilful team. It is about staying in the grind and working as hard as possible for your mate next to you.

“That is something you can only learn by playing those big games."

Welsby knows only too well the threat posed by the Dragons, who have beaten Saints in two out of the three games they have played this term - the last being Magic in early September.

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"It will be a massive 80 minutes from everyone and hopefully we will get the job done.

"The table says Catalans have been the best team this year – and they have been outstanding.

"Sam Tomkins has just got Steve Prescott Man of Steel and Steve McNamara is coach of the year so they cant be doing too much wrong if they are winning awards like that.

"They have massive threats all over the park so we have to be on our A game to get a result."

After grabbing the winner at a behind closed doors final, Welsby is now relishing the air-horns, chants and the cacophony of noise that an October night beneath the Old Trafford floodlights bring. 

"It will be a dream come true for me – and it is probably the same dream for every lad growing up around Wigan and St Helens.

"From my experience of watching it is probably the best atmosphere a rugby league player gets to play in.

"I just can’t wait to walk out and take it all in.

“It is not a given that we reach Grand Finals – it is really special.

“To be doing a third one in a row – and this one at Old Trafford - is just immense.”

Welsby has played a variety of roles since making his senior debut as a 17 year old in 2018.

In that time he has covered full back, wing, centre, halves and spelled at nine and loose forward.

That is something he has relished and soaked up like a sponge.

"I am lucky – every position I have played has been for an internationals – Cootey, Tommy, Percy, Jonny, Robes and Morgan Knowles.

"As much as I can take off them the better and that will always stand you in good stead.

Although he will slot in to take Lachlan Coote's full back berth next year, last week in the semi he did come on for Morgan Knowles. It is a role Welsby could again step into again on Saturday. 

Should that be his calling - then he has a simple remit - "make your trackles".

But he is not fazed by playing in the pack.

"It is good, I enjoy it and get to see more of the ball there than I do at centre or wing.

"Obviously when I am full back or half back you are play maker and see more ball, but at 13 I can get my hands on the ball and play like another half back," he said.

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Whatever happens, and wherever he is pitched in, he has just one simple philosophy that underpins his attitude - work hard.

"I can still do my best for the team and work as hard as possible, that is all that Grand Final try came from – working as hard as I could.

"We’ll have to see what happens – but whenever I am on field I will give my all.

"The most important thing is working hard – cover your mate’s back and he will cover yours," he said.

There was relief yesterday when Welsby declared himself fit from the shoulder knoock he suffered in the second half when trying to put a shot on Konrad Hurrell.

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He did re-appear late in the game and grinned through the lap of honour. 

"It was weird, like it had caught a nerve and my whole arm was pretty numb," he explained.

"But I got it strapped up and went back on and once we won I was just as elated as all the other lads.

"There was no thought of missing the Grand Final at all – I would have to have done something pretty bad to miss a Grand Final."

Welsby did reveal one thing that would be different from last year's Grand Final - which was etched into folklore quite literally in the form of a tattoo on his left thigh.

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"I don’t think I will be getting any more tattoos – I don't my girlfriend would be too impressed.

"I might have to edit this one eventually hopefully in a couple of years time, but I am going to try and stay away from those tattoo artists," he said.