St Helens rugby league ace Jack Welsby will round-off a memorable week on Sunday when he captains England against Tonga.

The St Helens full-back was named as the club’s Player of the Year for the 2023 campaign, before being picked by England boss Shaun Wane to lead out the side this weekend at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
Jack Welsby warming up for England, courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

With Welsby taking the reins from the suspended George Williams, who himself was only named as England captain earlier this year, the Saints star is in pole position to become the side’s youngest skipper of all time – at the age of just 22.

George Williams warming up for England, courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

He said: “I’m really excited to be named England captain and, if I’m honest, I’m extremely humbled.”

Welsby has played for his country just six times, making his try-scoring international debut against Samoa in last year’s World Cup.

But given his form throughout the season, where Saints finished third in Super League, he will be tipped to take the honour in his stride.

Welsby will also be following in the footsteps of another Saints fan favourite and former team-mate James Graham.

He captained England during the latter stage of his first spell with Saints against Australia in the 2010 Four Nations.

James Graham for England, courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

Still in the infancy of his career, Welsby has conjured up some memorable moments, such as the last-gasp try which secured the 2020 Grand Final win over Wigan.

And England boss Wane hopes he can play a role in the next stage of Welsby’s career.

Wane said: “It’s a massive privilege for me to give Jack the chance to captain his country.

“Since coming into the England squad last year, I’ve been really impressed with Jack’s performances on the field but his actions and behaviour away from the field have impressed me just as much.

“We have a lot of senior players within the squad who are natural leaders but with the international schedule locked in for the next four years we need to look to the future and Jack is a massive part of that.”

Welsby has scored 49 tries for Saints and appeared in each of the club’s four-peat of league titles from 2019 to 2022, which included him scoring that dramatic late try in the 2020 Grand Final.

Jack Welsby scoring a try for St Helens

Welsby also helped Saints to end a 13-year baron spell in the Challenge Cup, helping them to overcome Castleford Tigers in the 2021 final.

He also played his part in them winning the Club World Challenge for the first time in 16 years earlier this year, when Saints beat NRL champions Penrith Panthers.

On captaining his country, Welsby said: “It’s a huge accolade for me and to be leading the lads out on Sunday in front of my family is going to be a huge honour. There’s also the added bonus that it will be at St Helens.

“When Shaun came over and spoke to me it took me by surprise and wasn’t what I was expecting at all.”