St Helens’ Welsby relishes facing idol Tomkins in bid for Grand Final repeat

Last year’s match-winner is fired up by taking on his boyhood hero as Saints seek to beat Catalans Dragons and retain the title

Jack Welsby has already achieved plenty at the age of 20, more than some players achieve in a career. But the St Helens youngster, who has etched his name into the club’s folklore after his unforgettable match-winning try in last year’s Grand Final, will return to Super League’s grandest occasion on Saturday with more than a second consecutive winner’s ring in his mind.

He may well be committed to the Saints now – “They were the only choice in my head when it came to signing professionally,” he admitted this week – but as a child Welsby was a passionate Wigan supporter. What is more, his earliest Grand Final memories involve being starstruck by the man who will be pivotal in attempting to prevent the reigning champions from securing a third consecutive title this weekend.

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Catalans’ journey from Super League holiday resort to game-changing force | Aaron Bower

French club have already witnessed Challenge Cup success but now they could take the ultimate prize overseas

When Catalans Dragons walk out in their first Super League Grand Final on Saturday evening, those who have been on the French club’s journey since the beginning will perhaps allow themselves a moment to reflect. Every sporting story has a pivotal moment and for Catalans, who are on the verge of creating yet more rugby league history this weekend, that came almost four years ago to the day.

“I was numb,” says Alex Chan, the club’s chief executive, recalling his emotions from the 2017 Million Pound Game. “I remember everything about it because I knew the consequences if it had gone wrong.” It had been another disappointing season for Catalans, but this time the Dragons were in real danger of relegation from Super League.

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