Any player that reaches the milestone of three hundred appearances deserves all the accolades and admiration. Kris Welham is one of those players that gets on with his job week in week out with no fuss. A true professional and one of Rugby League’s good guys.
Kris was born in Kingston Upon Hull in 1987. After rising through the ranks at Hull Kingston Rovers Welham made his debut against Leigh in August 2006.
2006 was a fantastic year for the Robins. Sixteen wins from eighteen matches in National League one saw them lift the League Leaders shield before going on to beat Widnes in the Grand Final to gain promotion to The Super League.
Kris played a pivotal role for his home town club. With a very impressive try record he gained a very good reputation as one of the most reliable and prolific centres in the league.
After almost a decade at Hull Kingston Rovers, playing just shy of two hundred matches Kris averaged a try every other match which is a tremendous ratio particularly in the top flight.
A surprise move to Bradford for the 2016 season and the tries kept coming.
The Bulls had been relegated a couple of seasons before but were still playing in a very tough and competitive Championship competition. Twenty nine tries in thirty matches that year was another fantastic return.
On the 1st October 2016 Hull kr played Salford in the Million pound game.
Kris was a spectator that day and it must of been a bitter sweet afternoon seeing his home town club relegated in such dramatic fashion.
Rugby league works in mysterious ways sometimes and Kris signed for Salford for the 2017 season. Such is the social climate we live in these days that eyebrows were raised at the news on the various social networks but Kris soon won the hearts and minds of the Salford supporters with some fantastic performances.
In May 2017 the local community and the world were heart broken after the Manchester arena bomb. On a very emotional night at the AJ Bell Stadium just a few days after that horrific night The Red Devils offered fans free admission in exchange for a donation to the fund set up to help victims. A minute’s silence was observed before kick-off and fans held up ‘I Love MCR’ posters.
Supporters also staged a round of applause in the 22nd minute in tribute to those 22 killed in the blast only a few miles away at the Manchester Arena. And as if scripted, Salford scored a try in the 22nd minute – with the try coming from the player in the number 22 shirt, Kris Welham who was also named man of the match.
His new side were the surprise package in the 2017 season going on to finish fourth in the regular season and also reaching the Challenge Cup Semi Final.
Salford had a tough year in 2018 but Kris stayed consistent with his try scoring and being an old school style centre he created plenty of opportunities for the various wingers who played outside him.
Salford were tipped by many to struggle again in 2019 but so far with a small squad and limited resources have punched above their weight. Kris has been at the forefront of the action once again. Out of the twenty five matches The Red Devil’s have played so far he has only missed the two home matches against Wigan. His two tries against Catalans last time out continue a consecutive run of tries in the last six matches.
Salford coach Ian Watson was thrilled with Kris after his man of the match display on his 300th career appearance. “ I think Kris has been one of the most consistent players in my time at the club. He doesn’t always get the plaudits but what he does do is the little things well week in week out. He’s an outstanding bloke around the place.”
Team mate Daniel Murray had only good things to say, “he’s basically a complete professional and pretty relaxed in the changing room. Always their with advice and he knows what he wants from you.”
Off the field Kris has a lovely young family. Every chance he gets away from rugby he spends with wife Paris and their two children Pixie and Elijah.
Fun days out and walking the dog Ralph, they spend lots of quality time with both sides of their family. Paris says “Kris is very laid back, easy going and we spend most of his afternoons off grabbing a coffee with my dad in Starbucks his favourite coffee place. He’s also a bit of a joker and a big kid at heart, playing jokes on the kids and having a laugh. Kris is the most selfless, loving and caring guy I know”.
It’s fair to say a big topic of conversation in Starbucks with the Welham’s is rugby league. Paris’s dad Is Gary Wilkinson who has tons of experience in the sport having coached various teams over the years at a very high level. Gary was coach of Hull Kingston Rovers for a spell in the early 2000s.
Gary now has his own pest control business and Kris has recently been taking exams to get himself the qualifications he needs to work alongside his father in law once his Rugby career comes to an end.
As a Salford supporter I sincerely hope Kris Welham continues his rugby league story with us in 2020. When I’ve had the pleasure to interview him I’ve found Kris a very softly spoken gentleman who always has time for a chat.
In Rugby League these days their are so many utility players but Kris is an out and out centre. As mentioned earlier an old school centre, with a fantastic hand off, an excellent turn of pace. A top defender who does everything to perfection. A joy to watch on a weekly basis, a superb servant to the sport of Rugby League and lovely man.