Teenager Lewis Dodd dedicated his side’s Grand Final win over the Catalans Dragons to a Frenchman after St Helens became the most successful team in Super League history.
A thrilling 12-10 victory at Old Trafford denied the Perpignan club a fairytale ending to their maiden Grand Final and clinched a third successive title for Kristian Woolf’s men.
That enabled Saints to equal the record of eight Grand Final wins set by Leeds in 2017 but they overtake the Rhinos as the most successful club of the modern era courtesy of their victory in the inaugural 1996 season, when the title was decided by the old first-past-the-post method.
Dodd stepping up to the mark
It was a first Super League ring for the 19-year-old Lewis Dodd, who only got his chance of a run in the first team due to the absence of Theo Fages, whose season was ended by a broken shoulder in the Challenge Cup final in July.
“My chance as a half-back came in a way no one, including myself, wanted it to come, Theo being out for the season,” Dodd said.
“He’s a great player for this club but also a great bloke but that’s the nature of sport.
“I thought I had to do him justice for how good he’s been for this club so I did it for him tonight because he’s been so good for me as a young kid.”
Dodd, who will inherit Fages’ number seven jersey in 2022 after the Frenchman rejected the offer of a new contract, is still coming to terms with the enormity of his club’s latest success.
“You can talk all week about trying to keep it as normal as possible but with games like this you can’t because you know how much it means to the club and to the town,” he said.
“The game was a lot faster and more intense and, with the crowd, I’ve never experienced anything like it and might never get the chance to experience anything like it again.
“It just showed that, when it gets tough, we get tougher, and I can’t thank and praise the lads enough.”
Relishing the opportunity to play Penrith
In normal times, St Helens would now be savouring the prospect of playing the NRL champions in the annual World Club Challenge but the Covid-19 pandemic put paid to that match in 2020 and they must now wait to see if a clash with Penrith can take place in February.
Dodd played against the Panthers on a Saints academy tour Down Under in 2019 and would relish the opportunity to take on Nathan Cleary and company.
“That would be one we’ll want, to test yourself against the best, the best players and the best club,” he said.
“I just think it would be a good game for the game in general so hopefully we can get it on.
“I was 17 when we had just won our Grand Final and I was lucky enough to get on a plane straight to Australia.
“It was an incredible experience. You are with your mates for four weeks and you learn to grow up.
“We played four games and got a chance to test ourselves against the best in Penrith. It changed me massively.”