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Motivation from 300 career matches but no Grand Finals
Paul Wood will be using last year's play-off disappointment to motivate him against Saints on Saturday
PAUL Wood had tears in his eyes 12 months ago when he tried to explain how Wolves’ Grand Final dream had been shattered by Leeds Rhinos at the final hurdle.
Despite suffering a broken nose against Hull at the weekend, there was a smile on his face as victory over the Humbersiders put Wolves within 80 minutes of a Grand Final appearance again – and for only the second time in Super League history.
On his 300th career appearance he played his part in a mighty forwards performance that will have to be replicated and probably bettered against St Helens at Langtree Park on Saturday night if Wolves are to keep their league and cup double dream alive.
“We need to remember how we felt after we played Leeds last year and use that as a bit of motivation I think,” said the 31-year-old.
“We got to this stage last year and were disappointing in the play-offs the year before. We’ve learned a lot from those experiences and can take that into this game.
“I know it’s just another game of rugby but play-offs football is different from league games.
“We know we’re skilful enough and fit enough to win the competition but it’s how we handle the pressure and against Hull we did pretty well.”
After a nervy opening 10 minutes Wolves rarely looked in trouble against Hull and it was a much improved performance to the one that saw them lose this weekend’s home advantage and a week’s rest by falling 28-6 at home to Saints.
Wood said: “It’s amazing what difference a week makes in sport.
“After St Helens we were down in the dumps and after Hull we had smiles on our faces.
“We did what we know we can do which is the pleasing thing.
“Sport is about keeping form and sometimes you can be flying high and then all of a sudden you come down.
“That’s what we did against Saints last time. We’d been playing some pretty good rugby and then in the Saints game some things did not come off for us.
“It was a bit of a recap that we needed to work a little bit harder in training, concentrate and put some things together, change our mentality and find out that we don’t need to score on every play.
“In play-offs you’ve got to be more patient and that’s what we were against Hull and that’s why we came away with a win.”
Wolves also had a change in their preparation going into the Hull game, with the team staying at a hotel in Manchester the night before.
“We did that and travelled to the game as a team on the bus,” he said.
“We just wanted all the lads to be together so our main focus was on the game.
“Tony just wanted to mix it up and it seemed to work for us.
“It did give us that focus and it gave the lads chance to talk about the game plan and what we were going to do. It was good.”
Wood said he was pleased to reach 300 games, made up of 296 for Warrington and four international appearances.
“I hadn’t realised. It’s a good milestone but it just makes me realise I’m getting older,” he said.
“It’ll be good to play 300 for the club.
“Probably over the last couple of years I’ve been playing a little bit differently and probably playing some of my better rugby.
“I’ll carry on trying to improve and hopefully I can play another 300 games and turn into Mark Forster (ex-Wolves winger).”