Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
watch listen BBC Sport BBC Sport
Low graphics|Help
Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 October 2006, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
Anderson's final fling

By Elizabeth Hudson

St Helens prop forward Paul Anderson
Anderson has already experienced the highs and lows of Grand Finals
Saturday's Grand Final between St Helens and Hull will not only bring down the curtain on the Super League season, it will also signal the end of the distinguished career of Saints forward Paul Anderson.

With his bull-like frame, shaven head and powerful forward runs, the 34-year-old prop is one of Super League's most distinctive characters and has enjoyed a career renaissance since his move to Knowsley Road two seasons ago.

Now he has the opportunity to finish his playing career in the best possible way by helping St Helens complete a clean sweep of trophies before he moves to become assistant coach to Jon Sharp at Huddersfield.

The Grand Final seems the perfect stage for Anderson to bow out as he makes a record-equalling sixth appearance at Old Trafford.

His five previous appearances with the Bradford Bulls yielded victories in 2001 and 2003 but defeats in 1999, 2002 and 2004 - the first two to Saints.

But despite his vast experience, Anderson, who also enjoyed spells earlier in his career with Leeds and Halifax, is taking nothing for granted for his final match.

"You'd like to approach this game like any other one but you can't because the Grand Final is the biggest game of the year and it's win or bust," he told BBC Sport.

"At the back of your mind there is the fear of failure and I know what it's like to lose in a Grand Final.

"We probably underachieved last year, losing in the Challenge Cup semi-final and failing to make the Grand Final and that is at the back of our minds.

"At the beginning of the year we knew that with the talent we had on our side we had the potential to achieve a lot this season and we are close to that now."

There was surprise in some quarters when Ian Millward signed Anderson from Bradford for the start of the 2005 season.

I've learned as much over the last two years as I have over the previous 15 or so

Paul Anderson

But there is no doubt that Super League's heaviest man has repaid the faith that Millward, and current Saints coach Daniel Anderson, have had in him and admits he is lucky to be part of the current Saints set-up.

"When you join a club like St Helens and see their playing roster, you know that you have a chance of winning something," said the former Great Britain international.

"I've played in some great sides over my career but this side is one of the best I've ever played with and I feel very fortunate that I am playing in a team that I rate and that other people rate so highly.

"To have played alongside the likes of Paul Sculthorpe, Keiron Cunningham, Paul Wellens, Sean Long and Jamie Lyon is something I will be very proud of when I have hung my boots up and they are still playing.

"I've learned as much over the last two years - firstly off Ian Millward and then off Daniel Anderson - as I have over the previous 15 or so.

"It certainly proves that you're never too old to learn and it's been really rewarding for me, especially as I approach the next phase of my career."

St Helens' loss will be Huddersfield's gain as Anderson seeks to pass on his vast experience at the Galpharm Stadium next season.

"Knowing that I would still be involved next season with Huddersfield has got me through this year," he added.

Paul Anderson powers through the Australia defence in 2003
Anderson also represented Great Britain both at home and abroad

"I announced very early in the season that I wouldn't be continuing playing next season and it gave Saints notice that they had to be on the look-out for a replacement.

"Once the opportunity came to go and work with Huddersfield and pursue my dream of coaching at the highest level, it was too good to turn down.

"I'm looking forward to working with Jon Sharp and people who want to learn as much as I do.

"As for playing again, I've promised Sean Long I will play in his testimonial game but that is as close as I will get to putting my boots on again.

Despite the many honours he has acquired over his career, many rugby league fans will remember one thing about Anderson - his touchline conversion in Saints' victory over Leeds in September.

Showing a true goal-kicker's skill and vision, Anderson took one step back and sent the ball through the posts, sending the Knowsley Road crowd wild.

"You do one thing over two years and people remember that more than others," he admits ruefully.

"But St Helens fans are very knowledgeable about the game and I feel they will recognise the contribution I have made in my two years there - not just the kick at goal."

Anderson to join Giants as coach
30 May 06 |  Huddersfield
Anderson to quit at end of season
10 May 06 |  Rugby League
Hooper & Anderson agree new deals
15 Aug 05 |  St Helens
Anderson heads to Saints
01 Oct 04 |  Super League


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Daily and weekly e-mails | Mobiles | Desktop Tools | News Feeds | Interactive Television | Downloads
Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability sport | Olympics 2012 | Sport Relief | Other sport...

Help | Privacy & Cookies Policy | News sources | About the BBC | Contact us