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Last Updated: Friday, 20 April 2007, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
Jon Wilkin column
Jon Wilkin

By Jon Wilkin
St Helens back row

Some of the game's greatest players will be on view at Knowsley Road this weekend, when a Legends team takes on our Challenge Cup-winning side from 1996 to raise money for Steve Prescott.

Apollo Perelini during his playing days with St Helens
Perelini is gearing himself up for a big performance this weekend

It's great to see how much support Steve, who has cancer, is receiving from the rugby community. He's a top bloke and I wish him all the best for the future.

Our conditioner, Apollo Perelini, is playing in the game for Saints and is clearly taking it very seriously.

I saw him getting a haircut then going on a training run in preparation for his big day.

Rumour has it he's also been watching videos of himself in action.

I think they must have been in black and white and Eddie Waring was commentating. Lots of unlimited tackles and large leather boots, too!

There's been a lot of talk about the increased crowds over the Easter period and there are a number of factors for this welcome surge in numbers, in my opinion.

The competitive start to the season means a lot more supporters are optimistic about their team's chances and eager to turn out and see them play.

The good weather is also playing its part. There is nothing like playing and watching rugby when the sun is shining.

My Aussie team-mates seem happier now the temperatures are heating up. Instead of 10 layers of clothing, they are down to four or five now.

If the summer is really warm, dehydration could be a problem for players

It seems their shorts have been dusted off at the post-training fashion show earlier than ever. It's a sign that this summer could be hotter than ever.

The only thing that concerns me is the lack of water coming onto the pitch during matches.

If the summer is really warm, dehydration could be a problem for players, and games could suffer a drop in quality.

I don't understand why water carriers are prevented from coming on the pitch when they like. All they do is give players liquid and inform them of changes due to substitutions.

The decision to limit their appearances is a pointless move.

After such a gruelling period of matches over Easter, we were given time off to relax and spend time with family and friends who don't get to see us that much because of our playing commitments.

I took the chance to get away from rugby for a while, turning into a hermit and focusing on growing facial hair and looking scruffy for a few days.

My good friend John Kirkpatrick, an ex-Saint, is due to wed his fiancÚ this weekend, so I joined him on his stag-do.

You can't beat a few drinks with friends after such an intense period. It allows you to unwind and catch up on what's been going on in their life.

Q. I write in response to last week's column with regards to British sport and our failings at the highest level. Rather than giving so much coverage to sports in which we consistently fail to achieve in, particularly football, do you think the television companies should invest more in exposing sports in which we are showing signs of excelling, such as rugby league?

Or do you think the Australians are right in calling us a nation of moaners who wallow in defeat? Hope to see you back on the field soon.
Joe Cornmell, Bootle, Liverpool

A. The simple answer is money, Joe. Sports such as football are very profitable to broadcasters and other forms of media in comparison to rugby league. We are struggling as a nation in all mainstream sports, in all honesty.

But I don't think we are a nation of moaners. I just think our expectations are enhanced by the media so our national teams can be shot down at some stage!

I just feel we need to really look at our sports as a legitimate means of providing a route for children to develop discipline and reduce anti-social behaviour and we need to improve facilities because they have been really neglected.

Other nations have embraced sport and it plays a big part in society. I would love to see children more active, which would lead to more potential elite level players coming through.

Q. Jon, how much do you guys eat during an average day, and is the club particularly strict on what you can and can't have?
Will, Cumbria

A. We have to five or six small meals a day to get the correct amount of calories, which provide energy to meet our daily training regime. The meals should be balanced and be low in fat.

Everybody is different, though, and many players have their own routines. The club provide us with supplements to make it very easy to access the calories we need. Eating small but balanced meals is the way forward, Will, definitely.

Q. The Easter period produced record attendances which shows you how much the rugby league spectator loves this time of year. But it seems all coaches and most players are against it and say we play too many games. What is your opinion?
Andy Platten, Immingham

A. It's a good time of the year, Andy, but it is a really tough mental and physical challenge for the players. The attendances showed that fans love it, so I would keep the Easter programme in. It can be the making or breaking of a season. A few serious injuries or poor results and you really struggle. But it's also a fun time of the year.

Q. I'm captain of my local girls' footy team and I've represented East Yorkshire for the past few years. I was given the captaincy at the start of the season and everyone at the club thinks I'm the right player for the job but I'm not sure that I have the required qualities to be a captain! In your opinion, what makes a good player an influential leader?
Leigh Harrington, West Hull

There are several types of players who make good captains. Good communicators are one type. A captain must be able to stand up and get his or her team in the right frame of mind and be aware of when to talk and when silence is required.

On the flip side, it is sometimes easier to simply lead by example. Actions often speak louder than words and if you're playing well every one in the team will respect you enough anyway. Don't worry about it, Leigh. You should enjoy being a captain. Be vocal and lead by example is my advice.

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