IT was a hell of an effort – from the snow clearers, the team and Ben Westwood himself!
Coaches and players were grateful for the opportunity to play Saturday’s warm-up game in preparation for the start of Super League XVIII next weekend, with Warrington Wolves running out 20-0 victors over Wigan Warriors.
None more so than Ben Westwood, with the Betfred Challenge game among the highlights of the Wolves back rower’s Testimonial year.
Wolves’ head of coaching and rugby Tony Smith said: “I’d like to thank everyone at the club and the volunteers, all the people who got that field in good order for us.
“The game was crucial for us for our campaign and I thought we made a pretty good job of it too.
“As for Bennie Westwood, he was man of the match again. It seems all he has to do is turn up!
“Actually, Bennie’s not long been back in full training. He’s had clear-up operations so for him to go out there and compete in the way that he does, with the amount of training he’s had under his belt, speaks volumes for him.
“But nobody questions that about his toughness and his ability to push through tiredness. He didn’t look tired at all.
“I wanted to make sure I didn’t overdo him in terms of game time. I knew he wanted to do 80 minutes because he wants to every week but he wasn’t going to get that in this game because I didn’t want him breaking down at some other point as a result.”
He continued, with Westwood sat at his side: “I haven’t had that conversation with Bennie yet so I’m doing it publicly now so that he doesn’t hit me!
“Seriously, the way he played out there was tough and honest and the way he always plays.
“I thought he was very good and I’m looking forward to him getting better as the year goes on as well.
“It was a solid start from him.”
Westwood, who featured for the opening 40 minutes and the last 10 minutes, added his gratitude for the efforts of all the volunteers who cleared Friday night’s snow off the pitch in good time for the game to go ahead at 5pm, two hours later than initially scheduled.
“When I woke up Saturday morning I thought the game would be off,” admitted Westwood, who is celebrating 10 years with the club after signing from hometown Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in 2002.
“We put a note out on Twitter and Facebook and within an hour we had 50 people or more down at the stadium with shovels and wheelbarrows.
“I went down to say thank you to them all and I can’t thank the enough.
“The support that we have around here is fantastic and I couldn’t believe this myself. It’s thanks to them that the game went ahead.
“They were at the stadium from 8am until 2.30pm so I have to take my hat off to them.
“All I did was buy the shovels. They wanted me to go home and get out of the way. Fair play to them all.”
He explained the importance of the game for all the players.
“We’d had only one game against Widnes (Boxing Day) and some players, such as those involved with internationals at the end of last season, didn’t play so we definitely needed a game before next weekend.
“For me, I haven’t been training too long for this season and I needed a run out to blow a few cobwebs off my lungs and I was able to do that.
“I felt ‘puffy’ in the first 10 to 15 minutes but I’m sure it’ll come good.
“I’m looking forward to next Sunday now against Castleford Tigers. It’ll be a big game.”
Westwood used the pitch announcer’s microphone to speak to the crowd after the game.
He thanked his teammates past and present, his sponsors, Wigan Warriors, his Testimonial committee, his family, club staff and all the fans for all their help and support recently as well as during his 10 years with Wolves so far.