13th September 2019, 14:16 | Warrington

'Super' Benny Westwood - A farewell

'Super' Benny Westwood - A farewell

Veteran Rugby League writer Dave Hadfield pays tribute to the 'Super' one

After yesterday's personal tribute to Jamie Jones-Buchanan, today the revered Rugby League writer Dave Hadfield turns his attention to the other outstanding forward who is hanging up his boots at the end of this season, and will be celebrated alongside JJB before the Leeds-Warrington game at Headingley tonight - Ben Westwood. 

A Rugby League forward knows when his time is up.    

It is when his age, his squad number and the minutes he can expect to spend on the field all converge somewhere around the mid-thirties.    

Ben Westwood knows all about this branch of mathematics. In an era where you only need 45 per cent to earn a top grade at A-level, he has reached the point where the numbers no longer add up the way they used to.    

'Super' Benny Westwood, as his adoring fans at the Halliwell Jones invariably call him, is on the last lap - and it is a lap of honour.    

He would not be everyone's idea of a classical second-rower, but when it comes to the question of who you would most like to have alongside you in the trenches he is in the first rank.    Don't take my word for it. Listen instead to the former Warrington coach, Tony Smith, lavishing praise on him the way he did for no other player.    

'I don't like picking out individuals,' he was fond of saying. 'But Benny Westwood was outstanding (again)'.

For sheer admiration, there was only Shaun Wane's fierce devotion to Michael McIlorum that really came close. We used to joke before the after-match press conferences that Benny would get a mention in dispatches even if he hadn't played.    

That represents rapid promotion for a player whose previous standing was summed up by an apocryphal story to the effect that the Wolves had signed him by mistake when the player they really wanted was the other Wakefield centre at the time, the equally durable Gareth Ellis.    

International recognition came relatively late, but it was at that level that I remember Ben showing his essential generosity of spirit.    

The scene was a provincial airport in France and it had been a mad dash from the stadium to catch the charter flight before the place shut down for the night.    

What was more, there was no food - the ultimate players' nightmare.    

Like a veritable super hero, Mr Westwood got on his phone and ordered pizza for everyone - players, officials, media, baggage handlers - the lot. If you've never seen the Leaning Tower of Pizza, this was as close as it gets.    

For things like that, and his willingness on the field to take it as well as dish it out, he deserves another big match or two to round matters off. Some have suggested he played a season too many, but he would only have done so for the right reasons - loving what he does.    

So all the best, Ben. And if our flight paths ever cross again, mine's a Marinara with extra anchovies.