Alex Walmsley signs new St Helens contract

Alex Walmsley
Alex Walmsley

England forward Alex Walmsley has turned his back on the NRL after committing his future to St Helens.

The 27-year-old prop was in demand from a host of top-flight Australian clubs after making a big impact in the 2017 World Cup and, out of contract at the end of the new season, had hinted that he was seriously considering joining several of his England team-mates down under.

Walmsley said at the season launch a week ago it was "now or never" and effectively put an end to any prospect of a move by signing a four-year contract extension that will take him to beyond his 32nd birthday in 2022.

"This is superb news not only for the St Helens club but for the British game," Saints chairman Eamonn McManus said. "Alex is an international-class player who has been at the forefront of the sport over the last few seasons.

"He has established himself as one of the best forwards in the game and it is fair to say he can only get better too.

"We know Alex was courted by several NRL clubs and I have no doubt that this signing will be a boost for everyone in Super League."

Walmsley enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top after starting his professional career with Batley in 2012 and joining St Helens a year later.

He has so far made 147 appearances for Saints, including their 2014 Grand Final triumph, and was a Man of Steel nominee in 2015 before making his Test debut in October.

The retention of arguably the top front row forward in Super League is a timely boost for St Helens as they prepare to get their 2018 campaign under way against Castleford on Friday night.

St Helens head coach Justin Holbrook said: "Alex is the leader in our pack and this contract means we can continue to build around him for the foreseeable future.

"He has tremendous go-forward and work-rate to go alongside his professional attitude and the standard he sets for the younger members of our squad. His story should also serve as a message to those in all levels of our game.

"It is a massive bonus for our club to have Alex re-sign on the eve of the 2018 season. There has been a lot of interest from clubs in the NRL and deservedly so. I believe Alex is the best forward in Super League and showed his qualities even further for England in the recent World Cup.

"Alex is not only a fantastic player but more importantly a tremendous person and the fact he has decided to extend his contract with us proves to our club and the community that he loves playing for St Helens."

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