Paul Wellens knows St Helens need to find some consistency

Paul Wellens knows St Helens need to find some consistency

Paul Wellens has told his stuttering St Helens stars he will not tolerate any more complacency as they prepare to host struggling Castleford in the Betfred Super League on Friday.

Wellens’ world champions looked to have shrugged off their sluggish start to the current campaign after dazzling back-to-back wins over Wigan and Huddersfield earlier this month.

But having belatedly nudged themselves back into the play-off slots, Saints summoned an abject display in last Thursday’s 34-6 loss at Hull FC that suggests their bid for a fifth consecutive title remains very much a work-in-progress.

Hull FC v St. Helens – Betfred Super League – MKM Stadium
St Helens boss Paul Wellens has warned against complacency ahead of Friday’s clash with Castleford (Mike Egerton/PA)

In contrast Castleford head for the Totally Wicked Stadium on the back of a stirring win over previous pace-setters Warrington last week, and Wellens has demanded his players be on their guard for a repeat performance.

“I thought we were complacent at the weekend, Hull came at us with an intent and energy that we couldn’t match, and that was the most disappointing aspect,” said Wellens.

“Too many of us turned up to the game hoping for an easy night, and when you do that you make things much more difficult for yourself.

Hull FC v St. Helens – Betfred Super League – MKM Stadium
St Helens have struggled to re-assert their authority on Super League this season (Mike Egerton/PA)

“It’s a massive learning for us and we’ve had some pretty honest conversations this week. But what this group has done well in the past is respond to a bad performance and we need a really positive performance at the weekend.”

Wellens did not exclude himself from criticism last week, admitting he may have made an error in opting to rest captain James Roby and hand Morgan Knowles a rare start at number nine.

So ineffective was the formation – though no particular blame could be attached to Knowles – that Roby emerged off the bench for the second half and immediately made a difference in his side’s bid to claw their way back into the match.

St. Helens v Salford Red Devils – Betfred Super League – Totally Wicked Stadium
St Helens are hunting a replacement for the great James Roby (Richard Sellers/PA)

Their patchy performances this season have made Saints increasingly aware of their talisman’s impending retirement, with Warrington’s Daryl Clark yet to be officially confirmed as his replacement next season.

Insisting he is relaxed about the prospect of having to fill such a huge hole in his line-up, Wellens referenced Roby’s ability to make the position his own in the wake of the departure of the previous incumbent, Keiron Cunningham, in 2010.

“As a club we will be really smart about how we go about bringing in a replacement, and I will bring in a player of real quality who can add to this team,” said Wellens.

“When Keiron retired, James Roby came in and was true to himself, and we expect the same from James Roby’s replacement. James Roby is going to retire and we will move forward as a club and deal with that.”