DETERMINATION PAYS OFF FOR AARON WOODS
By Wayne Cousins
14/09/2011 3:44:41 PM
Tough young Wests Tigers prop Aaron Woods was aiming to play just a handful of games in 2011 after a frustrating run with a hamstring injury last season.
A Balmain junior with plenty of untapped potential, Woods has become one of the quiet achievers in the Wests Tigers forward pack this season.
The likeable young prop with the friendly nature played two games in 2010, spending most of his time in rehab and doing tremendous community work for Wests Tigers.
Woods ripped into pre-season training in November to ensure he left no stone unturned in 2011. His efforts were rewarded when he made his NRL debut in round one against the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium.
Twenty-two games later, Woods returned to the same venue last Friday night to play in his first Telstra Premiership qualifying final.
“This time last year, I was watching the finals from home. I just couldn’t get on the field because of the injury,’’ Woods said.
“I appreciate the faith Tim Sheens has shown in me. I only dreamed of playing three to five first grade games this year and I’ve ended up playing 23. Unbelievable.
“It makes it easier when you are playing with blokes like big Saucey (Keith Galloway), Gibbo and Todd Payten.
“What I’ve learnt the most is that you have just got to do your one per centres. You can’t just come to first grade and think you have got your spot.
“You have got to keep working hard. You need to do your extras and do all the little things that count.”
At the age of 20, Woods is already playing the father figure role to raw prop Matt Groat after his rapid rise to first grade from the U20s this season.
“Matt has been going really well. He does his one per centres and extras at training. He is always in the game and does a lot of talking,’’ Woods said.
“It is just good to see young blokes come through. The coach shows a lot of faith in us and allows us to go on to the field and do what can do.
“Andrew Fifita encouraged me to do a lot of talking when I first came into first grade. He made me feel really comfortable.
“I’m just trying to do the same with Groaty.”
Wests Tigers Captain Robbie Farah is a huge Woods fan.
“From round one, Woodsy came into the side and has earned the respect of the players around him through hard work,’’ Farah said.
“His performances have been outstanding. He is a player who probably would have played first grade last year if it wasn’t for injury. This year, he hasn’t looked back. I’m really pleased for him.”