Romano Group Seagulls centre James Wood will prepare for Sunday’s final round clash against ladder leaders PNG Hunters as if it his last match … just in case it is.
The 32-year-old is one of the Intrust Super Cup’s personality players, yet he is also a deep-thinking, articulate father of two who has played more Cup games than all but four players at any club.
The question has been posed whether ‘Woodsy’ – who needs just one try to equal one of his best mate’s Nathanael Barnes’ record of most tries for one Cup club with 108 – will hang up his boots at season’s end.
The fact is, he doesn’t want to make up his mind until after he has had a break following a tough season for the last-placed Seagulls. However, he admits retirement could beckon.
“I just want to get away, spend some time with the family then make a decision – you’re a long time retired,” he said.
“My wife, who knows me best, said she can’t trust me to make a decision right now, and she’s right.
“But yes, it might be my last game on Sunday; that’s how I’m leaning to be honest.
“If this does happen to be my final game, I would like to sincerely thank my family, friends and people that have followed and supported me over the years, the Tweed Seagulls and the QRL."
Woods is the last playing survivor of the Seagulls’ golden era that brought a premiership in 2007, when he was a quick, evasive 22-year-old with a crew-cut hairstyle.
He has also achieved a minor premiership in 2011, but the team fell to the Paul Green-coached, sixth-placed Wynnum Manly 16-10 in the grand final.
“I just want to get away, spend some time with the family then make a decision – you’re a long time retired.”
Wood says he can’t pinpoint which were the best or most satisfying of his 107 tries, other than to say he looks fondly on the 19 he scored in the 2007 premiership year.
“I could do things then I certainly can’t now,” he smiled. “When I look back, I’m proud of how I played then and some of the tries I scored towards the end of that premiership year with such a great side.”
Woods holds several club records that look a long way away from being broken.
After this weekend, he will have played the most games with 242 (fifth in Queensland Cup history), is second to Barnes’ 108 tries with 107 (Barnes holds the Cup record with 135 career tries, 27 with Wynnum Manly) and most seasons in first grade (14).
Woodsy has one wish for the final round of 2017 against the side the Seagulls beat against all odds in Port Moresby in June, becoming just the third team to beat the Hunters at the National Football Stadium.
“To play some footy and really have a go,” he said.
“Last week it was unfortunate to lose like we did against the Pride, but I felt we looked more dangerous than our opponents for once and every player who took the field did their best.
“That’s all I could ask for this Sunday. It would be good to finish with a win, but I hope we at least play with the same intent that we had last week and don’t just go in there to survive for 80 minutes, but throw some of our own shot against a very good side, and finish on a high.
“The win over there against the Hunters was massive. We didn’t play pretty footy, but we were tough; everyone dug in and had a go and we got the result.
“Hopefully that is something they can look back on with satisfaction. I will – it’s special for me to say I went over there and got a win against the Hunters in PNG, because it’s so hard to do.
“A last versus first victory to end the season would be pretty good too.”
Whatever the result, one thing is for certain. Whether it’s Woodsy’s last game or not – he’ll play tough, he’ll play with passion and immense pride in wearing the Seagulls jersey.
But he’ll shake hands at the end, knowing it’s just a sport and he could only give his best.