Paul Wellens hopes to channel his inner Guardiola now he is St Helens' coach | The Sun

Paul Wellens hopes to channel his inner Guardiola now he is St Helens' coach | The Sun

PAUL Wellens hopes to be more Pep Guardiola than Alan Ball now he is in charge of St Helens.

The lad from the Eccleston area, who first watched his boyhood idols when he was ‘five or six-years-old,’ is now coach after stepping up to replace Kristian Woolf.

Wellens could have the ultimate first year in charge as they go for a fifth consecutive Super League title and his debut competitive game will be the World Club Challenge at NRL premiers Penrith.

And he admits he hopes to bring some of the manager of his beloved Manchester City into the way his side puts his stamp into action on the field.

Wellens, who was also in the stands during the Blues’ dark days, said: “You see how driven Pep is as a manager and how even though he’s been involved in the game a long time, he still holds his players to the highest standards.

“You see with the great teams that the person who leads that, there’s an element of their personality within it.

"Hopefully I can put my stamp on this team and my passion for the club, the town and the people within it who come and watch us can show.

“Pep still drives that winning mentality. That’s really impressive and I’d imagine he’d be a really interesting guy to sit down with and talk about coaching and management.

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“And being a huge City fan, I enjoy watching how the team plays, which is a big part of it. You go watching as a supporter, you want to be entertained.

“I’d like our St Helens team to do the same.

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“And I take a lot from people I’ve worked with – not just coaches but players as well. I’ve been fortunate enough in my young career to have worked with some of the greatest coaches this game has had.

“Wayne Bennett for example. You’d certainly be foolish not to pick something up from him – there’s also Kristian and Justin Holbrook at Saints and Shaun Wane with England, Steve McNamara before that.

“Coaches that have achieved a lot and gone on and won things – but you need your own thoughts and ideas. I have them and will be looking to implement them.”

Wellens – who lifted five Super League titles, five Challenge Cups and two World Club Challenges as a player, as well as being named Man of Steel – is regarded as one of England’s best young coaches.

But he is still the lad who stood on the terraces of Saints’ former Knowsley Road ground, who is still approachable when in the town.

The 42-year-old added: “It’s sometimes a bit surreal to be called head coach.

“When I walk down the street and people congratulate me and wish me well, it’s quite a humbling experience. The enormity of the role isn’t lost on me.

“I was a young boy, about five or six-years-old, when I first watched them. One of my first memories watching them is when my elder brother Kevin played in the same team as Mal Meninga.

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“That season goes down as one of the club’s greatest. That’s where my passion for rugby league and St Helens started.

“But I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication to keep this club at the level it’s at.”

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