By Jon Wilkin
St Helens and Great Britain forward
I would like firstly this week to talk about my Nan who sadly passed away last week. She will be missed by all the family for many reasons.
My lasting memory of her will be as the voice of reason whilst my elder cousin and my sister battered me in the dining room.
I still think I sometimes draw upon those beatings as fuel whilst I am playing! My Nana was an amazing and selfless person who will be greatly missed by everyone.
I suppose family loss helps focus your mind on to what is actually important, and it also reminds me that I love the buzz I get from playing rugby.
It is sometimes deemed as 'fashionable' to say how much you dislike your job and generally people's conversations revolve around their hatred of their occupation.
Playing a sport - and winning - is the best job in the world, but don't get me wrong, it's not easy.
St Helens have enjoyed success over the past couple of seasons
We are constantly under pressure from all angles and our success in life is often far too closely linked with rugby. Despite that, you cannot beat the feeling of winning, but I suppose if success didn't feel so good then nobody would strive to achieve it!
I know it's a big part of what drives me. We have been very lucky in recent years at Saints to experience success, and while people on the outside may assume that it makes you more comfortable and less driven, the reality is far different.
Having success makes you hungry for more and it takes a lot more to achieve.
Every club should be brought up on winning and I think sometimes our failings as a nation in sport could be attributed to the lack of a winning mentality (as well as funding, facilities and good weather).
The Super League has started to settle down again and, as I said in a previous column, the competition is beginning to take shape for the run-in.
We face Leeds this week who will want to prove last week's loss to Harlequins was a one-off.
They are a great side and I expect the game on Friday to be very special. We are, of course, highly motivated and it is a chance for us to close the gap at the top of the table to just two points.
We will draw some confidence from two recent high-scoring displays but the scores in those games can sometimes be deceptive as we are well aware we can make marked improvements.
I think by their own admission both Hull KR and Bradford under-performed against us, but there is very little chance of Leeds doing the same on Friday.
England have their World Cup warm-up Test next week away to France and I know plenty of players will be looking for a chance to impress coach Tony Smith.
England captain Jamie Peacock models the new team kit
I am sure it will be a strong side and good luck to the people who get selected for a chance to pull on the pretty snazzy new England kit!
It will be a tough weekend for anyone who has to play two games but it's a small sacrifice to make to stake a claim for a World Cup spot.
Playing in France is always tough. I remember as a schoolboy playing in a game in Carcassonne to play the French "schoolboys". I say this as a majority of their team drove to the game and the kick-off was delayed due to a French changing room beard-trimmer malfunction !
I suppose the fact that the French national team are massive and have facial hair is completely legal at full international level...