Matt Whitley outlines key goal after ‘full-circle’ St Helens move

MATT WHITLEY wants to finally be on the winning side in a Grand Final and he believes returning to his boyhood club will be the way to do it.

The backrower has signed a two-year contract with St Helens, ending a five-season stay in France with Catalans Dragons.

In that time he twice reached Old Trafford, in 2021 and this year, losing to Saints on the first occasion and then beating them in the semi-finals earlier this month, only to then fall to Wigan.

Whitley says he is coming “full circle” by re-joining Saints, after supporting the club as a child and joining their scholarship side before moving to Widnes.

“I’ve been looking forward to this since I was a little lad and for it to be finally happening is something I’m really excited about,” said the 27-year-old.

“I spent a lot of my younger playing days at Saints but had to go elsewhere at 16, so to come back again now as a more established player, I’m really looking forward to it.

“Saints know what it takes to win the big games and always are fighting for silverware.

“I can hopefully add to that and we can go one step further than this year, and I can get that Super League winners’ ring I’ve been looking for.

“I’ve made it to two Grand Finals now but lost both. It’s not a feeling I want to keep having – I want to get that win. 

“It adds to the experience and the hunger, and I’ll be working as hard as ever to get that next year.”

Whitley joins Curtis Sironen, Sione Mata’utia, Joe Batchelor, James Bell and Sam Royle in a hotly contested back-row division next season at Saints.

Head coach Paul Wellens, who has also signed Barrow winger Tee Ritson on a two-year deal after his loan spell at the club last term, is pleased to have such depth.

“He adds competition for places, which is really healthy for a team that wants to grow and improve,” said Wellens.

“It’s going to be a headache to try and pick our best 17 next year, particularly if everyone is fit.

“The key to any successful team is having not just a strong team, but a strong squad as well, and that’s what we’ve looked to assemble for next year.”