Woolf praises Dodd’s growing maturity

St Helens coach Kristian Woolf was full of praise for teenage halfback Lewis Dodd after the youngster put in a polished performance in Saints’ derby win over Wigan Warriors on Friday night.

Nineteen-year-old Dodd is now the first-choice scrum-half for Woolf following the season-ending shoulder injury to Theo Fages, and he did not disappoint at the DW Stadium.

He scored a fine individual try when he stole the ball from Oliver Partington close to the Wigan line, while he was heavily involved in all the good things Saints produced.

Woolf is well aware of the pressures Dodd is under, and he doesn’t really want to add to them, but he insists he is improving in all aspects of his game.

“He’s getting better and better every week,” said Woolf.

“We all know what ability he’s got, we all know he’s got a terrific running game and we all know he can kick the footy. He’s getting better and better in terms of how he manages the game, how he puts kicks where they need to be.

“And what I think is the most impressive for a young man is the way he’s handling himself defensively and competing. It’s quite obvious at times that teams are going to try and get big men at him and he’s handling it really well.

“When you’ve got that in a half, he’s going to learn the other things, so I’m really happy with how he is developing.”

Before the game against Wigan, Woolf demanded a response from his side following their home defeat against Castleford Tigers, and the Australian believed he got the reaction he was looking for.

“It was exactly the response we wanted,” he added.

“We obviously weren’t happy with last week. We didn’t play to our standards, and we had a bit of a poor discipline about us. We weren’t great last week with or without the ball.

“But I was really happy and really proud with how we turned up (against Wigan). Right from the kick-off you could just tell the intensity, and in the whole game.

“It was a very high quality game and I thought we started with a terrific intensity. We had a really good discipline about us and we really went after the game.

“We showed that in our defence, but we played some footy and backed ourselves a bit as well. They’re a very good defensive side and to come up with 26 points we had to play some footy. I was very happy with what we did with both sides of the ball.”

The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.