PAUL Wood believes British players’ stock is rising in Australia, helped in no small way by the success of the Burgess brothers at South Sydney Rabbitohs.
And Wolves were the subject of a lot more attention on their latest camp compared to 2012.
Prop Wood said that when talking to Australian rugby league fans while Down Under, if they were not asking about a repeat of the 2012 match between Souths and Wolves, they were talking about Yorkshire’s famous fraternal foursome.
“The first thing they say when we mention we’ve trained with Souths is ‘the Burgess brothers’, they are absolutely massive over here,” said Wood.
“They’re doing really well for themselves and I think they are a big reason why English rugby league players get a lot of respect over there now.”
Aussie players still get the star billing over their English counterparts and Stefan Ratchford summed up Wolves’ training with NRL stars as ‘just another day at the office’, making it clear that Warrington had not travelled all that way to ‘collect autographs and swap t-shirts’.
Perhaps an exception to that rule comes in the form of New Zealand boxing champion and cross-code superstar Sonny Bill Williams, the player that fellow professionals remain in awe of.
So much so that Warrington’s fan favourite Ben Westwood was delighted to find out that rugby league’s most famous player had been impressed while training with SBW’s Sydney Roosters side three times over the past fortnight.
“Sonny Bill Williams went over to Bennie, chatting to him and having a good rugby conversation,” said Wood about the England and Kiwi World Cup rivals.
“SBW called Bennie a ‘machine’, so he was totally made up with that. For someone like that to say that to Bennie is pretty big.
“If you were going to clone a rugby league player it would be SBW. When you see him up close, he’s got this magnificent body, he’s big, tall, fast, strong, fit. Just as impressive in the flesh as on the TV and you could see he is an ultimate professional.
“Bennie was really made up that he called him a machine - he didn’t shut up about it all day!”