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Westwood set for historic 400th Wolves appearance

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My first memory of Ben Westwood was him taking Paul Atcheson’s head off in a Challenge Cup game against Widnes for Wakefield.

He was put on report for the second minute incident and then handed a three-match ban after it, with the Wildcats going on to win 12-4 against the then newly-promoted Vikings.

If you’d told me after that game that he would go on to have such a stellar career, I’d probably have laughed.

Instead, the Normanton-lad has become a legend at Warrington Wolves, playing his way in to the top 10 appearance makers in the club’s history, winning three Challenge Cup titles and playing in two World Cups for England.

He enjoyed a testimonial for the club in 2013 and it was at the beginning of that year that I had a lengthy sit down with the back-rower which really changed my perception of him.

Known for his tough style of play, which he often pushed the boundaries, he’s a player that opposition fans love to hate.

But it was that interview session where Westwood told me about his life, his family and how he’d made Warrington his home after moving from the other side of the Pennines that I saw him in a different light.

Here is a man who at a young age – 21 when he moved from Wakefield – uprooted and moved from Yorkshire to join what was then a new Warrington project.

He arrived at Wilderspool in 2002 alongside Nathan Wood as Paul Cullen steered the club from what could have been a catastrophic relegation.

Westwood was then part of the Wolves team that moved over to the new Halliwell Jones Stadium, starting a new era in the club’s history.

Starting as a centre, Westwood soon made the move to the back-row and was the club’s Players Player and Fans Player of the Year in 2007.

In 2008, he was named in the Super League Dream Team and earned a place in the England World Cup squad.

His first piece of silverware came the following year, when the Wolves beat Huddersfield in the Challenge Cup final, and that was followed up the year after against Leeds.

In 2011, he played for England in the Four Nations and then added a third Challenge Cup winners medal to his collection in 2012.

The 2013 World Cup turned out to be his last international hours, and he played in all five of England’s games, starting in the second-row, including the heartbreaking semi-final defeat to New Zealand.

This Saturday, Westwood pulls on the primrose and blue for the 400th time as the Wolves take on Catalans in The Qualifiers.

For those who fancy a flutter, he is 22/1 to mark his 400th appearance as first try scorer on bet365.

Whatever happens from now on, Westwood has written his name in to Wolves folklore, and the club’s pack will certainly be less fearsome without him.

In the modern day world of sport, stories like that of Westwood may be getting few and far between.

It may well be a long time before the Wolves see someone of his like and longevity again.

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About Author

Journalist and sport content specialist, who is also editor of Love Rugby League. Formerly ran the official website of the Carling Cup, as well as operating a digital services business in Warrington.

1 Comment

  1. Im afraid you are wrong James Gordon. The Widnes player whos head he took off was not Paul Atcheson, it was Adam Hughes. I can remember it clear as day. Hughes had try to rough Ben up minutes before. So he had to get the Super Bennie revenge treatment.

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