St Helens forward Jon Wilkin has revealed he wants to continue playing next season – and is hopeful a new deal with the club can be finalised soon.
The 34-year-old is one of several players whose form has been rejuvenated under the leadership of Justin Holbrook this season. He is out of contract at the end of this year, but insists he has no intention of retiring yet.
“I want to go round again,” he told League Express. “I’m in the process of speaking to the club and seeing where we are. I’m feeling good, and I’m playing half a game every week which is blowing my mind.
“Everyone is telling me I look fresher and quicker – it’s just because I’m playing 40 minutes every week so it’s less work! But I’m enjoying working with Justin and learning every day.”
Wilkin also paid credit to the impact Holbrook has had on both himself and the club as the one-year anniversary of his appointment as coach looms.
“A sign of intelligence as a coach is being able to sum up the problems a club has into a sentence or two, as strange as that sounds,” he said.
“Justin’s biggest asset when he came in was identifying that we were frustrated and getting us excited about playing again. He made some quick changes, and away we go.
And, perhaps inevitably, Wilkin was quick to praise mercurial fullback Ben Barba – who was again sensational on Saturday as the Saints progressed to the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup.
“His attitude since he came to St Helens has been incredible,” he said. “People may cast judgements on Ben, but ever since he stepped through the door at the club a year or so ago, he’s been an exceptional professional.
“He’s unbelievably driven and while it’s obvious he’s so naturally talented, what people don’t see are the 50 to 60 finer things he does every day in training which makes him the player he is.
“He thinks hard, he understands the game and he watches rugby religiously. There’s way more to him than a prodigious talent – he’s so much better than that.
“There are 13 players on the field for you every week, but if one of them is lucky enough to have the talent and ability of Ben Barba, it shows you how important getting those decisions right are. Getting Ben to the club was a genius move, really.”
When asked if he had hidden Barba’s passport to prevent him from leaving at the end of this season, Wilkin quipped: “Good luck with that.
“If Castleford couldn’t hold him down last Saturday, it might take a full squad of us to pin him down and get another season out of him here.”