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Page last updated at 13:49 GMT, Thursday, 2 October 2008 14:49 UK
2008 Grand Final
Old Trafford, Manchester

Jon Wilkin

It has been a hectic few months with what feels like wave after wave of big games. Such a battering inevitably takes its toll, both physically and mentally, hence our well-timed trip to Madrid, organised by our chairman, Eamonn McManus.

It was just what we needed and ensured we felt fresh prior to our play-off clash with Leeds, which we won 38-10.

Going into Saturday's Grand Final at Old Trafford, where the Rhinos are opponents again, I still feel very energised and ready for what is certain to be another bruising encounter.

Opening Cloughie's bag is like entering a whole new world

We're very confident and enjoying each other's company in the build-up to the game, just like we always do! Not much has changed, Nick Fozzard still whinges every day, Willie Talau does extra abs in the gym and Paul Clough still takes everything that is not nailed down.

Opening Cloughie's bag is like entering a whole new world. It contains every free item available to the players, like bottles of Powerade, cans of Red Bull and packets of assorted protein powders.

Oh, and he's got a collection of floor tiles in there. They came loose from the changing room floor and Paul is now trying to sell them to his family at inflated prices. Paul encapsulates the phrase 'Owt for Nowt'. I imagine every workplace has one of these guys.

This year's Man of Steel awards saw James 'Jammer' Graham collect the main honour. I'm bound to be slightly biased, but I don't think anyone could argue with that decision. At 23, he has been the best prop in the country this year - an amazing feat.

I know Jammer will take it in his easygoing stride, but everyone from the club congratulates him on a brilliant achievement.

James Graham
Graham is Super League's Man of Steel - but a rusty one

What was telling was that in his acceptance speech he said he would swap his award for a Grand Final win. It is that selfless attitude that typifies Saints and is the kind that must be shown by everyone for us to win on Saturday.

Whatever happens, Jammer's award means training will be all the more fun. This season we abused James Roby for being Man of Steel and gave Paul Wellens some stick for being the former Man of Steel.

Now Jammer will be Man of Steel, Robes will be known as the player 'formerly known as Man of Steel' while Wello will be the 'player formerly known as the former Man of Steel'.

If I'm honest, I find the 'Man of Steel' tag very cheesy. Jammer's hair glinting in the morning sunlight may give the impression of metal, albeit gone a little rusty, but why not just call it the 'Player of the Year' or the 'Best Player by Miles' award.

Anyway, congrats to James. And what a noble gesture to donate half of your winnings to the players' fund at Saints!

Finally, Saints will be saying farewell to some good friends after the Grand Final.

It's Daniel Anderson's final game in charge while Nick Fozzard and Willie Talau are both off, too. Paul Sculthorpe and Mike Bennett have both retired but I'm sure we'll see them around the place still.

I wish them all of them well for the future. As for the game itself, I will leave the press to speculate about what the outcome will be.

see also
St Helens v Leeds (Sat)
02 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
Cunningham extends St Helens deal
02 Oct 08 |  St Helens
Graham scoops Man of Steel award
01 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
St Helens 38-10 Leeds
19 Sep 08 |  Rugby League
Leeds stunned after play-off loss
19 Sep 08 |  Rugby League

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