Defeat not injury is real ball-ache for stoic Wood

Forward ruptured his testicle in Grand Final but insists the pain of losing is much greater

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The Independent Online

Shedding blood for the cause is commonplace in sport; leaving body parts behind is another matter.

The Warrington prop Paul Wood could be excused for feeling incomplete following the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford on Saturday. The substitute forward ruptured a testicle during the 26-18 defeat by Leeds and had it removed in hospital that night.

"It's not too bad," Wood insisted stoically yesterday when we spoke. "I've got another one."

Wood did the damage early in the second half. "I was just carrying the ball in and Kallum Watkins caught me accidentally with his knee," he said. "There was no intention on his part. In fact, I don't think he knows yet that he did it, because I haven't mentioned him. At the time, I just got up and played the ball. It wasn't until after then that I doubled up."

Wood soon realised that something was amiss. "I knew that, because the pain didn't subside," he said.

The Rugby League's chief medical officer, Chris Brookes, examined him and arranged for him to be transferred to the nearby Salford Hope Hospital. There it was confirmed that the testicle was ruptured and would need to be removed. Refusing to be downcast by the injury, Wood spent his time at the hospital busily tweeting in response to the flood of good wishes from rugby league followers.

His final message from the hospital read: "Just coming out the hospital to go home…. Seriously feel like I've left something."

Wood, a 30-year old father of two and an England international, was in heavy demand yesterday at his home in Wigan. "But it's a painful way of getting publicity," he said. "The pain is actually worse today, because yesterday I was full of painkillers."

Wood insisted the pain was nothing compared to losing the Grand Final. "We're all gutted," he said. "We put our balls on the line to try to win Super League, but we couldn't quite do it."

Wood's embarrassing and uncomfortable injury meant that he missed the traditional "Mad Monday" end-of-season celebrations yesterday.

He hopes, however, to take his place on his team-mates' four day "chill-out" trip to Majorca on Thursday and to be fit for the start of pre-season training next month. Ironically, his war wound comes at the end of a season where he overcame an injury jinx to play a full role in the Wolves' successful campaign, including playing in the side that beat Leeds in the Challenge Cup Final in August.

Although mercifully rare, ruptured testicles are not unknown in rugby league. Chris Flannery, who has just retired at St Helens, once played almost an entire match in that condition.

man of steel in tin

The Wigan full-back and recently elected Man of Steel, Sam Tomkins, has achieved the unique distinction of having a brand of soup named after him. Heinz BIG Soup has launched a limited edition Beef, Tomkins and Onion flavour, the proceeds from which are to go to Joining Jack, the charity set up by the former Wigan player Andy Johnson, whose son is suffering from an untreatable muscle-wasting disease.