With a flash of blond hair and and a swish of self-confidence, he sent out a message that was impossible to ignore: "Look at me", it said. "I'm the one to watch".
Rhys Evans made his full home debut for Warrington last week against Leeds, playing with the self-belief of Yoda while looking young enough to need parental permission to watch Toy Story 3.
He was impossible to ignore, out there in the 'glamorous' centre position, demanding attention and superlatives. And rightly so. If he continues to dazzle, there will be many who were in that stadium on that night who'll be proud to say 'I was there when it all started'.
Meanwhile, there was another blond on that pitch whose contribution to Warrington's win over the Rhinos went largely unnoticed. No - perhaps 'unnoticed' is the wrong word. The thing is with Ben Westwood, he does what he does - and has been doing for a long time now - with such regularity that it's taken for granted.
Doing the hard yards
For 80 minutes, Westwood put in the hard graft at the coal face. Count 'em. Eighty whole gut-busting, impact-absorbing, opponent-shattering minutes. He reckons that is how to get the best out of the work-horses like him in Super League, because it takes ten minutes to get up to game-speed, then 10 minutes later you're off, getting spelled. Then the cycle starts again with another 20-minute bout. It's better he says, just to stay on and keep the cobwebs off. Well, it works for him.
Ben comes up against his old side Wakefield on Friday. Brought up in Normanton, Trinity was the local side and the one that gave him his professional start. He was an apprentice, which meant working from 8am til 5pm cleaning out the terraces and polishing the boots of the first-teamers, before training with his own team-mates until 8pm.
It established a work ethic and a sense of team responsibility that has seen him through to where he is today - one of the stand-out forwards in Super League.
Last season, he was Warrington's player of the year. His team-mates chose him as their player of the year too. And he cannot have been too far away from a Man of Steel nomination. I'd argue that what goes against Ben - and players like him - is consistency of performance. If you do your best and play well week-on-week, it isn't noticed as much as the eye-catching nature of displays of those bursting onto the scene. Players like Rhys, who seemingly come from nowhere, and force us to take notice.
Having spent nearly ten years at Warrington, Ben has matured into a self-assured, thoughtful player, happy to let the 'characters' take the limelight while he quietly gets on with his job. He's enjoying watching the next generation come through (though please, not too quickly, he jokes in the interview linked here).
You won't hear Ben Westwood spouting opinion on the latest talking points. Nor will you see him pushing his way to the front of the team photos. He will be the one going full kilter into confrontation on the field and asking questions of his opposition.
Watch out for him on Friday. He'll be the other blond one.
Post to your View!
Be the first to post a comment on this story