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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 February 2007, 15:38 GMT
Jon Wilkin column
Jon Wilkin

By Jon Wilkin
St Helens back row

Confidence is a strange thing.

It is not something you can touch or see and can come and go so quickly, but it has such an enormous impact on a team and the individuals in it.

The Carnegie World Club Challenge was a perfect example of that.

St Helens started like a team with doubts, but we quickly grew into the game and engineered a situation to win.

We still required the finishing touch, and Adrian Antonio Gardner jumped like a Cumbrian mountain goat to score the try that made us champions.

To be acknowledged as the best club side in the world in your chosen sport is a special feeling.

It is something very few people get to experience, and all of us at Saints feel so lucky and privileged to be given the opportunity to fulfil a dream.

Ade Gardner is congratulated by Matt Gidley and James Roby
Ade Gardner celebrates his match-winning try

To beat such a fantastic side as Brisbane really made Friday's win all the more exciting.

After the final whistle went, I looked at Darren Lockyer and pinched myself.

This great player was so disappointed because of us - a rag-tag bunch of misfits, gathered together to chase an oversized egg-shaped leather thing around a rectangular piece of grass.

Because that is what rugby essentially is.

There are very few things in my life that take me to the emotional highs that winning a trophy does, and I have been lucky enough, at just 23, to experience so many.

I suppose everyone has highs, but the fact that we get to share our excitement with thousands of spectators makes winning so much more intense.

I know that as a child on a farm, if 20,000 people turned up to clap me and my family off the field after harvest and then spray us with champagne, I would still be there now!

I already know I will miss the emotional highs rugby league provides me with when I stop playing.

People will be looking for our Super League form to improve after our WCC win, but we cannot assume success will come to us

But I suppose family life, challenging knitting patterns and the odd hip replacement will fill the void.

It is so important to celebrate a good win together - and the Saints players did just that after our win at the Reebok.

It's always good to see the younger lads in their element, myself included, while the older guys do the experienced thing, standing at the bar and nodding their head to the occasional Bruce Springsteen song while reminiscing about the 1980s when electro-pop and shellsuits were all the rage, apparently.

But the celebrations could not go on forever.

We are well aware that we need to be fully prepared this week as we get ready to take on Bradford.

The Bulls have started very well and their left side, with David Solomona, Shontayne Hape and Lesley Vainikolo, is the biggest and most threatening unit in Super League. It should be a massive challenge for us.

I suppose people will be looking for our Super League form to improve after our WCC win, but we cannot assume success will come to us.

We will continue to train hard and ensure we do the little things well, as it's the little things that win you games.

St Helens captain Paul Sculthorpe
Paul Sculthorpe was Saints hero against Brisbane

It is something the Australians have mastered over the years, and hopefully we can start to perform with the same ruthless intensity as they do.

It really pains me to say it, but the Aussies get it right in most sports.

But on behalf of all the English boys at Saints, I would like to say that their king prawns are not that big and their beers are too small and warm. You can't seem to get a fresh sandwich anywhere over there either.

(After hearing the Aussie players at Saints level such accusations at England, it's nice to be able to redress the balance).

Finally, I would like to pay tribute to Paul Sculthorpe, who produced such a massive performance for us in the WCC after such a long time out of the game.

It's a sign of his attitude and dedication that he was able to come in for such a big game and produce some touches of class.

Well done Scully.

Q. I like to get pumped up with some belting 80s tunes before I hit the pitch, but what music do you guys listen to in order to get fired up? Jonny Nettles, Liverpool

A. Everybody is so different in terms of their preparation, some of the players are into heavy metal and really noisy, loud and painful music. Scully is the cheesiest - he listens to the Rocky soundtrack.

I don't really like to get to fired up before the game, I like to be calm and have a clear head so I listen to Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and anything that chills me out.

Q. Can you describe the feeling of breaking your nose in a match. Can you feel it with all the adrenaline and does it make you wary when you go in for challenges? Joe Philpot, Huddersfield

A. It's such a strange feeling. When I did it, I realised I couldn't see my nose out of the corner of my left eye, so that was a sign I had done something. It wasn't painful at all until several days later after the celebrations had finished. You can never go into challenges wary of anything - that is when you get hurt!

Q. You play with my little brother. Can you tell him to get himself down to Ipswich to see his nieces sometime soon? Chris Graham, Ipswich

A. I will do my best, but your brother James Graham has devoted much of his spare time to self-grooming and he has several hair appointments a month to keep up with the latest trends. I am sure once this phase passes he will have more time for family and friends!!!

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