Super League Heroes – Kris Welham

Category: Heritage

Super League Heroes – Kris Welham

Kris Welham was born in Hull in March 1987 and came through the club’s Academy set up to make his first team debut at Leigh towards the end of the 2006 promotion-winning season. With a home play-off semi-final just about in the bag, coach Justin Morgan elected to rest some first team regulars for the trip to Leigh, and both Kris and brother Liam were given their debuts on the wings that day – the only instance in Rovers’ history of two brothers making their debuts in the same game.

Kris scored a try that day, and was given another chance a fortnight later at Whitehaven, also on the wing. Unfortunately, brother Liam was one of five players from the side that lost 48-12 that day who never played for the club again. Ironically, the two league games in which the brothers played were the only league games that Rovers lost that season.

Welham featured the following season only in the penultimate game, when he entered the fray from the bench to make a try-scoring Super League debut in a 40-24 loss to the Wigan Warriors. His first Super League start came in the third game of the 2008 season, a 24-20 win in the South of France courtesy of Stanley Gene’s late try. Welham had the satisfaction of appearing in a winning side for the first time that day. The following week, Welham supported Gene’s break to touch down in a thrilling, if ultimately unsuccessful, late comeback against the Warrington Wolves at Craven Park.

In 2009, Welham came of age, taking advantage of various injuries to experienced centres Chev Walker and Jake Webster, and started in all 32 games – only Peter Fox bettering his 15 tries that season. The following season, in a 52-12 away win at Harlequins, Welham registered his first try hat-trick for the Robins, finishing the game with four tries and thus being only the second Rovers player to score four tries in a Super League game.

2011 was Welham’s stand-out season with the Robins though. Starting in all 31 games, he scored 26 tries, including two hat-tricks – even adding a goal against Hull FC at Cardiff – and his 25 in Super League games is still a season record for a Rovers player. His form that season earned him an England Knight call-up and a four-year contract extension with the Robins.

In 2012, Welham had played in every Rovers game until, in the 19th, he broke his leg in a 13-10 home defeat against Catalan. He made a try-scoring return in the third match of the following season, a 44-18 win over Widnes Vikings, but endured a second injury-disrupted season. Returning to full fitness, Welham then missed only seven games in two seasons. In 2015, his last with the Robins, he helped winger Josh Mantellato to a 27-try haul, and played a full part in the Challenge Cup run of that season.

For salary cap reasons, coach Chris Chester decided not to renew his contract at the end of that season and Welham’s last match was a 46-22 home win over Salford in a Super Eights qualifier. Appropriately, he marked the occasion with a try, and converted Rovers last try of the game to record his second goal for the club. In all, Kris Welham made 191 appearances for Rovers, scoring 102 tries. He was a strong and pacey centre, who for several seasons was Rovers most potent attacking threat in the three-quarter line. He has made most Super League appearances for Rovers, 165, and has scored most tries, 89. On his departure, chairman Neil Hudgell paid tribute, saying, “He’s not only been a tremendous player for Hull Kingston Rovers, he’s also been a great ambassador for the club.’

Enjoying a very successful season at the Bradford Bulls in 2016, Welham came to the attention of Salford coach Ian Watson, and he has now made 86 appearances for the Manchester side, the highlight being the 2019 Grand Final appearance against St Helens. Planning for the future outside rugby league, Welham has set up a pest control business across the Pennines.

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