Saints' Wellens would swap tries for Grand Final win

Paul Wellens
Paul Wellens has run in 10 Super League tries for Saints this season

St Helens joint skipper Paul Wellens admits that he would swap his 200 career tries for victory in Saturday night's Grand Final rematch with Leeds.

Wellens reached his double century in Saturday's 26-18 win over Wigan to set up a ninth Grand Final appearance at Old Trafford.

But, after victories in his first four finals, Saints have lost the last four.

"It's a fantastic personal milestone but I'd swap them for a win next week," admits the 31-year-old one-club man.

"A couple of times I got held up over the line and I was thinking it wasn't going to be my night, he told BBC Radio Merseyside. "Thankfully I got over for one and the boys saw it through.

"I just stuck my left arm up there and thankfully it stuck and I managed to find my way to the floor."

Wellens' try, the 189th of his Saints career (the rest of his 200 career tries are made up of four for Great Britain, four for England and three for Lancashire) moves him up alongside winger Alan Hunte in the list of the club's all-time tryscorers.

The veteran full-back struck five minutes into the second half in the 26-18 win over defending champions Wigan to claim his landmark touchdown, enabling Saints to draw level after trailing 12-8 at the break and set up a fourth Grand Final meeting with Leeds this Saturday evening (8 October, 1800 BST).

"It's a tremendous effort," said coach Royce Simmons. "He keeps putting himself where the action is so he's going to score tries.

"He puts his head where a lot of blokes won't put their heads.

"He covers some miles on the football field and gets his rewards."

Wellens, who has been assured of the sole Saints captaincy next season, admits that he would not begrudge the armband going to fellow joint skipper James Graham for his swansong this weekend.

Wellens has shared the captaincy with the England prop since the retirement of Keiron Cunningham at the end of last season.But Saturday's showpiece match will be Graham's final appearance in Super League as he prepares to embark on a new career in Australia in 2012 with Canterbury Bulldogs.

"It's not something that James or I worry too much about," said Wellens. "But Jammer has had a fantastic career for Saints.

"You miss quality players when they move on. James Graham is one of - if not the - best front rower in rugby league.

"His performance on Saturday night against Wigan was just full of everything. He seemed to cover every blade of grass and another performance like that from him this weekend wouldn't go amiss."

As for Wellens himself, as he aims to avoid a fifth successive Grand Final defeat, the 2006 Man of Steel admits that he has rediscovered some of the best form of his distinguished career at the most important time of the year.

"I had a few injuries at the start of the year," he said. "But I feel the more games I've played back to back, my form has just continued to get better.

"I've been delighted with my last couple of games. Hopefully, I've got another big performance in me."