Rugby League - Wellens ready to fight for place

Former Great Britain full-back Paul Wellens is in danger of becoming Super League's first non-playing captain but that will not diminish his enthusiasm as he prepares for his 17th season with St Helens.

The Saints skipper, who turns 34 next month, started games at loose forward and stand-off since losing his full-back spot to Jonny Lomax last summer and spent the last nine games of the season on the bench.

That situation is unlikely to improve after he was handed the number 17 jersey by coach Nathan Brown but Wellens is determined to make the most of his new utility role.

"I'm excited by the challenge," Wellens said at the club's pre-season media day at Langtree Park.

"If you look at the strength in depth of the team, I think it's as strong as it's been for a number of years. I am just focusing on working hard, getting myself in the right condition and putting myself in a position to make the 17.

"I've spoken with Nathan at length numerous times and playing that utility role is something I feel I can do and do quite well.

"Prior to me nailing down that number one shirt many years ago, it was something I did a little bit of.

"Where I've got an an advantage this year is that I've got a full pre-season preparing myself to play numerous roles, which I feel will certainly benefit me. It won't be quite as alien to me as it was last year.

"I've always said the same since I was a young kid at the club - wherever I'm asked to play, I'll play. It doesn't really bother me." .

Brown, whose side finished a disappointing fifth in his first season, has strengthened his squad with the addition of a specialist scrum-half in Australian Luke Walsh and three giant-sized forwards in Mose Masoe, who will miss the first two games after undergoing ankle surgery, Kyle Amor and Richard Beaumont.

Walsh will form the playmaking triangle with stand-off Lance Hohaia and England hooker James Roby but Wellens will provide useful back-up for all three players.

"Wello can play a number of spots for us," Brown said. "He provides utility value for us in key positions.

"Obviously he can play full-back which we're well aware of and he's done a lot of training in pre-season at hooker and stand-off but, for me, one of the big things with Wello is that his leadership capabilities are first-class."