DURING the course of a season, or even a career, there are certain games that you look back on with fond memories, usually major finals or derby games spring immediately to mind for obvious reasons, but there are other games which carry a certain significance.
Last weekend’s trip to Harlequins was for me one of these games.
We went into the game missing quite a few of our senior players, and there was very little riding on the game in terms of our league position.
It’s these types of games were you find out a lot about what type of player you are.
The challenge is to maintain your focus, but more importantly you see those guys who have a real desire to win whatever the circumstance.
It was great to see a lot of the younger lads not only get the opportunity, but to also play their part in what was a very good victory.
Our second-half performance in particular was pleasing, and our younger players will have gained a lot from the experience.
It was also nice to get the win for Carl Foster, who was making his first-team debut.
Another statistic brought to my attention in the build-up to last week’s game was that 14 of the 17 players have come through the club’s development system – the exceptions being Michael Shenton, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Jon Wilkin, who is approaching his10th season at the club.
There are now a lot of clubs who recognise that developing young players is essential, but I firmly believe our club continues to lead the way in that department.
This season alone we have had five debutants who have come through the Academy system.
Any young player good enough to have the choice of which professional club he would like to start his career at could be excused for basing his decision purely on financial reasons.
I would have to concede this is a factor that has to be taken into consideration, but for me being in a place were you know your improvement will be recognised with first-team opportunities at the start of your career is vital, and Saints certainly provide this.
n I THINK the weekend’s game was the first time in my career I have been the oldest player in the team.
In fact, I was the only one over 30, with Wilko at 27, and James Graham at 25, the other ‘old’ guys.
I’m looking forward to the return of Tony Puletua, not only for his destructive play, but he will bump up the average age of the squad and reclaim his role as the grandad of the team.
n BEFORE the game on the weekend, I was in my room getting myself ready and decided to have a shave.
I then realised I had forgotten my razor and was frantically prowling the hotel corridors, knocking on team-mates doors asking if anyone had a spare one, but with so many youngsters in the squad who can’t even grow a beard it was proving a real challenge.
I knocked on Wilko’s door but he hadn’t brought one either – quite frankly he has a beard that a cat could lick off.
And after Jammer’s protein shake episode, I would be reluctant to ask him to lend me anything.
It was Paul Clough who eventually came to the rescue, but not without incident.
After 30 minutes of haggling, I managed to get the cost down to £1.50 for 15 minutes of use and he stipulated that it would be an extra £1 for every minute I went over.
He never misses a chance to make a few bob.
n ALL the guys are now looking forward to our play off game at Wigan on Sunday, and I’m sure it will be a great atmosphere.
We are all really excited about the challenge the play-offs bring, and winning the Grand Final is still very much our target.
Thanks again for the excellent support, especially to those who made the journey down to London last weekend.
All the best – Wello