SAINTS scrum half Lewis Dodd was looking forward to his first Good Friday clash against Wigan when the Star’s Mike Critchley caught up with him. Dodd also gave an insight into the way he has bedded into the team in the pivotal number 7 role.

MC: How is the mood ahead of a special fixture on the rugby league calendar coming up – and a sell-out?

LD: There is always a different feel about Good Friday derby. I played a lot of games against Wigan at the various age grades coming through and I am sure loads of lads will say the same it doesn’t matter what level, these games are always a bit more intense.

I am 100 per cent looking forward to my first Good Friday – it has been a long time since we have had a Good Friday game here so hopefully we can put a spectacle on for them.

St Helens Star:

MC: How have you found the step up to being first choice number 7?

LD: I have found it quite a rewarding feeling, being there week, in week out, to be in a side and at a club that is so good.

It is just a case of me being consistent every week – because that is what this team has been so good at these last few years. I am just adding my bit to that team and that is what I am focusing on.

MC: There was a clamour to get you in for a shot at 7 at the start of last year, rather than being dipped in off the bench at nine, but was that a smart move in getting you used to this level?

LD: I guess in hindsight, yes. At the time I was a bit wary of Woolfy playing me at 9 as I had never done that before and there’s some big boys in that middle. But if you look at it now, everything that he did was preparing me for that week in, week out of playing for this team in this league.

I guess you could call it a masterstroke.

I think in this team, when you are wearing a number seven, you carry a lot of reputation and a lot of pressure.

Rightly so, this club deserves to be winning games regularly and winning trophies, the more the club can do to take the pressure off a young lad coming in, in any way that they can, the better, even if the lad at the time may think he is ready to play.

MC: Nobody would have wished injury on Theo at Wembley, but was the silver lining to that cloud the way it allowed you to slot into the team at 7?

LD: No one likes injury, especially to a bloke like Theo, but even though have just talked about not rushing lads through, that was called for when Theo got injured last year. I knew what I had to do for this club – just do my job and be consistent.

It is a weird one because it was not on my terms coming in, but I knew I had to do a job for this team and for Theo, given what he had done for this club.

St Helens Star:

MC: After seeing those performances at the back end of the year, was there a re-assurance going into the off-season that Saints had their seven for the transition into the year?

LD: Yes, it took the pressure off me a little bit this year. There was still some of those questions – can he play week in, week out? But what I did last year with the team did help me a little bit and people had an idea of what they were expecting. So that did help this year.

MC: You took a lot of teams by surprise when you first broke in, particularly with that step inside. Are you finding yourself more heavily marked the more the opposition know about you?

LD: I spoke to a couple of the lads about this earlier in the week. When you are a young player nobody can really do any vision and video on you and you may get away with some stuff against teams.

But when teams know what you favour, you might get that extra man marking you but from that it is down to me to figure out something different to manipulate the defence.

That is what I am trying to work on now – and the people in the squad help you out so much if you are willing to listen and willing to learn. That is what I am doing this year.

St Helens Star:

MC: That tighter defence has not stopped you from trying to take on the line though has it – and you always seem prepared to take the hammer that comes with it.

LD: As a half back you have to be willing to take the line on and run the ball. Like Woolfy says, when our halves run the footy the team is most destructive.

It is just about getting the balance right of running the football and also organising the team as well.

MC: There is a different dynamic with you at 7 and Jack at 1 – the attack is different, is that to fit your respective skillsets or is it the way Woolfy has evolved the team’s style?

LD: It is a bit of both. Myself and Jack both like running the ball. Last year with Theo and Cootey their pass selection was right nine times out of 10, and that’s what we liked to do.

But because me and Jack like running the football it is about getting players into positions where they feel more comfortable so that they can execute their skill. It is a coincidence in a way, but managed into the team.

Me and Jack try to bring some excitement, youth and energy – then we have got to get the balance of winning games and killing games off and being disciplined. Once we get that balance right, then that is when it will be good to watch.

St Helens Star:

MC: Does bossing about the team, especially the big fellas and more experienced players, come naturally to you as a seven?

LD: Sort of. I have been a half back for most of my career now and even as a young lad it was a strong point of my game – organising the big lads or the more experienced lads, whatever it is.

That has always been a part of my game coming through so it is about staying on with that and not going into my shell. That is what I try to bring into the team.

MC: How good a mentor is Jonny Lomax to have alongside you?

LD: I can’t fault any of the lads for the way they have helped me. But I play with Jonny in the halves and we spend a lot of time together through the week.

If you are in the right mindset he is very helpful and not trying to spray you in any way and he will help you. He has been massive for me.

St Helens Star:

MC: Goalkicking was a strong feature of your game coming though. Is it something the coach has taken off you until you get bedded in, or is it a job you no longer want to take on?

LD: I would happily do it, but speaking with Woolfy and the role I play in this team he thinks it is one pressure that I don’t really need.

With Tommy kicking as well as he is there is no need to add that pressure to me.

I have to lead the team round, focus on the last tackle kicking and on my defence so for the time being it is a pressure release sort of thing.

MC: Not sure if Harry Smith will make the Wigan squad for Friday, but it would be nice to play against him given your club links?

LD: He is a couple of years above me but we grew up together playing at Halton Farnworth Hornets and have known him since he was five or six years old. Hopefully he can get out there on Friday.

St Helens Star:

There are a few talented lads come out of Widnes – they may not be at Widnes but Super League is seeing the best of Widnes.

The ones at Saints, including Jon Bennison, are applying their skills to one of the best sides in Super League. The Saints fans have just got to applaud the young lads coming through.

St Helens Star:

MC: Yourself and Jack have the world at your feet at the ages of 20/21 – in a team that is winning trophies, what is it that keeps your feet on the ground?

LD: Personally speaking, probably my family. I remember an incident when we beat Leeds in the semi-final last year to get through to Old Trafford and I came home and everyone was really happy.

Then my mum said, ‘Go and take the rubbish out now.’ I’m thinking we’ve just got to the Grand Final and I am doing this!