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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 March 2007, 10:00 GMT
Jon Wilkin column
Jon Wilkin

By Jon Wilkin
St Helens back row

Everybody was pleased with aspects of our performance against Bradford last Friday.

We spoke about starting the game well, and for 20 minutes we played some of the best rugby since I have been at the club.

We played with speed and direction, largely thanks to James Roby and our big men.

Leon Pryce (L) and Sam Burgess
Saints battled to victory against Bradford last Friday

I would also like to congratulate Steve Tyrer on a great performance. His kicking was excellent and he showed maturity belying his years.

We are still looking to be more consistent over the full 80 minutes as a team and it is something we will strive for this week at Warrington.

Having being concussed against the Bulls, I now have to prove I am mentally fit to play this week. I have to take what's called a base-line test.

In pre-season, every player takes it so that if they get concussed the doctors can measure if they are compos mentis.

The test is based around a deck of cards, and players have to judge whether the cards they are shown are of the same suit or colour.

If you get one wrong, the computer makes the sound you often hear on Family Fortunes.

I remember sitting next to a team-mate of mine who was forced to take the test in 2005.

All I can say is that he must have thought he was playing solitaire because his computer was making that 'uh-err' noise a little too often.

Needless to say, he failed, though it was clearly computer error. Don't worry, your secret is safe with me Willie Talau!


There are very few things that compare to walking out at Knowsley Road on a Friday evening, and I was very proud to lead the team out with Nick Fozzard last weekend as I prepared to play my 100th first-team game for St Helens.

Fozz was making his 250th appearance, although his professional career incorporates stints at Saints, Warrington, Huddersfield and Leeds.

Nick Fozzard
Fozzard celebrates his try against Bradford last week

Me and Fozz argued fiercely before the game over who was going to set the pace and be first onto the pitch.

My plan was to distract him with some playful banter then apply a burst of speed, break the paper and receive the acclaim of the crowd alone.

But after careful consideration, I realised this was inappropriate behaviour and we agreed to walk out together.

Fozz is easily one of the funniest people you will ever meet.

The secret to his success as a comic is simple - it relies purely on repetition!

Every day whilst warming up, we hear the same phrase: "Is anyone else tired, does anyone else's legs feel heavy!"

Fozz has said this every day for the last three years in the most pathetic, sad and unmotivated tone of voice. But it always gets a laugh and makes everyone smile.

Another trick of his is to wait until a large queue has formed for lunch.

He then walks directly to the front and bellows in a deep Yorkshire accent "I'm next", shoving people out the way in the process.

It's so funny watching the people behind him get angry.


Banter between players is a major part of life at any rugby league club.

We very rarely talk to each other about anything of any significance, but we're happy to aim abusive comments at each other about our hair, clothes, running style and accent.

You have to think really carefully about what you say at Saints.

Jason Hooper
Jason Hooper has got lots of stick for his singing exploits

Any slip-up rarely goes unpunished and the offender can expect a lengthy period of emotional torture and psychological battering.

I receive so much flack about my media work and running style.

Lee Gilmour quacks at me every time I start jogging because he thinks I look like a duck.

Now everyone has started mooing whenever James Graham tackles someone.

He should be pleased, though, because it's in acknowledgement of his freakish strength.

As for Jason Hooper, he may be a great bloke but sometimes he tells you things he really should keep to himself.

He once told Paul Wellens about an incident in a crowded bar in Oz when the song Mustang Sally was playing in the background.

In the middle of the chorus, the DJ suddenly lowered the music to leave Hoops on his own screaming "Mustang Seven!" at the top of his voice. He honestly thought that was the lyric.

Now if the lads are ever in a bar and Mustang Sally comes on, he knows he is going to get abused.

The young lads in our squad should take note: keep any embarrassing stories to yourself.


Q. Given what you have achieved so far in your career, what would you say has been your greatest personal achievement? Amanda, Leeds.

A. It is easily the first cup final I played in, when Saints beat Wigan in 2004. After watching the Challenge Cup as a kid, I never ever thought I would end up getting my hands on the trophy.

But sat in the lift of our team hotel in the early hours, with both the cup and Mark Edmondson alongside me, it hit home that I had fulfilled my childhood dream.

Q. I have been arguing with a friend for a few weeks now about the value of Mike Bennett to our team. I think that his work rate, tackling and overall play are missed big time when he's not around. My friend, however, argues that points scored are most important and so his lack of tries are a weakness for him. What do you think? Paul Johnson, St Helens.

A. It is so important to get a good blend of every type of player in the team. It is pointless having a side full of big, strong, tough players without having any creative players who can think laterally.

Equally a team full of creative flair without any grafters and work horses just doesn't work, in my experience. Mike is an exceptional player who brings balance, cohesion, consistency and a large amount of chest hair to our squad. (Ha ha ha).

Q. Would you ever consider playing rugby union or in the NRL? Chavi, Paris.

A. I always keep my options open. I like to challenge myself and attempting to be successful in union would be just that. I would love to give it a go sometime. It's the same for the NRL.

I would love to try my hand in Australia, especially after being over there for the Tri-Nations. It would be interesting to compete and see how I measure up over there.

The Aussies are also blessed with a beautiful country and I would love to see more of it. I am contracted to Saints for now and so happy, but who knows what can happen in the future.



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