St Helens full-back Paul Wellens believes that this autumn's World Cup will help to raise standards in the Super League.
Saints kick off their 2013 Super League campaign with the visit of Huddersfield Giants to Langtree Park on Saturday evening.
The players realise that their form for their club can earn them selection for their countries, so we're in for a good season.Paul Wellens
Wellens and his team-mates will be looking to lay the foundations for what they hope will be a first Grand Final success since 2006. They are 1.20 to defeat Huddersfield, who can be backed at 4.50.
But the veteran full-back is anticipating a fearsome challenge from the other 13 clubs. Saints are 4.00 to win the regular season, while last year's Grand Final winners Leeds are at 8.00.
"The standard is rising every year in the Super League and with this year being World Cup year I really think that the trend will continue. The players realise that their form for their club can earn them selection for their countries, so we're in for a good season," said Wellens, who represented England at the 2008 World Cup.
"For me it's always been about playing well for St Helens. I love representing my country, but I haven't done it for five years now and I'm not sure what my prospects are for selection this autumn. Having said that, it'd be hard to say no if the phone call came."
England head into this year's World Cup on the back of a resounding 2012 Autumn International Series triumph over Wales and France.
And, though they're likely to face tougher opposition at the tournament later this year, Wellens is backing Steve McNamara's men to mount a challenge.
"I think in the past people have been able to criticise England's lack of strength in depth in the backs division. I don't think there's a weakness there anymore. There's strength all over the park but that particular area is stronger than ever ahead of the World Cup."
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