sport

Wilkin hails Brown arrival

St Helens stalwart Jon Wilkin believes the arrival of coach Nathan Brown can help the club silence their critics and win silverware.

The 29-year-old England back-row forward, who will lead Saints out in his testimonial match against Wakefield at Langtree Park on Sunday, has won the World Club Challenge, Challenge Cup and Super League Grand Final in his decade with the club.

But Saints have been trophyless since 2008, and, having set such high standards up to then, Wilkin admits the club have become victims of their own success.

St Helens' barren spell has coincided with the loss of club legends Paul Sculthorpe, Keiron Cunningham and Sean Long, and Wilkin feels proving they can win things without that trio is providing the team with an extra incentive.

"I want to put to bed the last four years as people have questioned whether we are good enough," Wilkin told the club's website www.saintsrlfc.com.

"I want us to win something without Sean, Kez and Scully; the best players in the world in their positions.

"There will never be a time like that again when three world-class players are at any one club due to the salary cap so it is my goal is to win something as a group away from that."

After appearing in six Grand Finals in a row from 2006 and 11 consecutive Challenge Cup semi-finals, St Helens faltered in 2012 when they failed to reach either of the two major showpiece occasions.

But Wilkin, who has made 256 appearances under five different coaches - Ian Millward, Daniel Anderson, Mick Potter, Royce Simmons and Mike Rush - since he joined the club from Hull KR in 2002, says former Huddersfield boss Brown has started to have a positive impact since taking up his three-year contract in November.

"I couldn't have had six different men in terms of their attitude to the game and how they deal with players," Wilkins said.

"Under Nathan, there is an energy towards us winning trophies and making sure each player gets better.

"I am learning every day and that is exciting me. Nathan has picked up on things that can improve my game and that's a massive positive."