Almanac Rugby League – Aaron Woods: The mummy’s boy with a warrior’s spirit (first published in the The Guardian Australia)

Alongside the Ashes, Wimbledon and the Tour de France, the 2015 NRL State of Origin series decider takes place at Lang Park in Brisbane, tonight.

Those north of the Barassi line have been in awe of the talents of prop Aaron Woods since he established himself as a vital cog in the Wests Tigers line-up, and in game two of the Origin series at the MCG last month, nearly 92,000 fans and a couple million more on their televisions at home, pubs and clubs saw what all the fuss was about.

As the Blues look to make it two series wins on the trot, Patrick Skene profiles Aaron Woods; the self-confessed ‘mummy’s boy with the warrior spirit’ and one of the key planks of the Blues’ hopes of success.


Cometh the moment, cometh the hairy, bearded 114kg man: 24-year-old Aaron Woods in a moment of sweet, deceitful genius. With no way through the watertight Queensland defence, as a prop-forward Woods was expected to pass the ball or run straight. He did neither, throwing a brilliant dummy, shaking off three internationals and strolling over to score. Some called it the greatest Origin prop try. Others hailed the birth of a new master of the universe. Woods was the new top of the props and the game had delivered another larger than life character for its fans.

2040 is more than a postcode for old fans of the Balmain Tigers, now known as Wests Tigers. It represents their headquarters, Leichhardt Oval, holy ground of the old working class tribe of the inner west of Sydney. Tellingly Woods’s Instagram account is ‘woodsy2040’. “2040 is who I am and it’s who I owe,” he says. “I was brought up by a single mum but the community filled any gaps, we all looked after each other.” The patrons of the bar are thrilled to have their Origin hero in the neighbourhood and a familiar phrase fills the bar as they enter and leave: “Onya Woodsy.” The bar owner, Jesse, is a mate of Woods’s. “He comes down to our bar and chats to everyone,” says Jesse. “He is accessible and takes an interest in what they have to say. People that haven’t watched league for 20 years are now coming back.”

Aaron Woods’s football story begins at his grandmother’s small cottage in a quiet street in Leichhardt. As a kid he lived above a newsagent on Norton Street with his mother, but while she worked he spent endless hours with his grandmother and his aunties who became like sisters… It was on these streets that Woods honed his competitive streak. Rebecca says her son would accuse his aunties of cheating in street cricket and races. “I remember in one game Nan was my Under-8’s touch judge,” admits Woods sheepishly. “I ran close to the sideline and she put the flag up. I didn’t talk to her for two weeks.” The women tempered that competitive streak, teaching him grace the old-fashioned way. During one memorable foot-race against his aunties he swore loudly, and his mum dragged him into the house to literally wash his mouth with soap before his nan intervened. “Looking back I could see what both Mum and Nan were trying to do and it was all out of love,” he says. The women in Woods’ life have been crucial. “My dog is female, I was a mummy’s boy and a nanna’s boy, my aunties would bash me and pick on me like a young brother, my missus is strong and stable, my youngest sister is my biggest fan,” he says. “They’ve all been great for me.”


To read Patrick’s article in full visit The Guardian’s website via THIS LINK


Follow Patrick on Twitter: @patrick_skene



About Patrick Skene

An Epicurean Celt interested in Sport, Culture & History.

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