ONCE WERE WARRIORS: NATHAN WOOD

Nathan Wood – Warrior #91

Diminutive and tough utility Nathan Wood spent the last of his nine seasons in the Australian premiership with the Warriors, making 17 appearances during the club’s breakthrough 2001 campaign before embarking on an impressive stint in the UK Super League.

Balmain (1993-94): 19 games – 4 tries (16 points)
Sydney City (1995-2000): 78 games – 17 tries (68 points)
Warriors (2001): 17 games – 1 try (4 points)
PREMIERSHIP TOTAL: 114 games – 22 tries (88 points)

South Sydney junior Wood made his first-grade debut for Balmain as a 21-year-old in 1993, featuring predominantly in the halves in his first two seasons in the top flight, while also earning run-on appearances on the wing.

Wood joined Sydney City in 1995 and made starts at halfback, fullback and second-row, before assuming a bench utility role the following season, as well as being the back-up No.7 to Adrian Lam. He was a specialist interchange dummy-half by 1998, scoring nine tries in 23 games (including six in a four-match period) as the Tricolours reached a second straight preliminary final.

But Wood’s role was usurped by versatile youngster Craig Wing in 2000; he played just seven NRL games and was not required for the Roosters’ charge to the grand final.

An attacking livewire and committed defender, he relocated to Auckland in 2001 after 78 games for the Roosters, including seven finals appearances.

Wood proved a fine acquisition for the emerging Warriors, playing primarily as an interchange but also enjoying a three-week stint at five-eighth during the first half of the season – including a key role in their famous comeback against the Bulldogs in Wellington.

He laid on two tries as the Warriors fought back from 20-2 down to pull off a 24-all draw at the Cake Tin.

Despite tipping the scales at a mere 90 kilos, the popular Wood was also used as a starting second-rower by coach Daniel Anderson in the side’s final-round loss to North Queensland.

He came off the bench in the Warriors’ maiden palyoffs match – a 56-12 loss to Parramatta – his 17th top-grade outing of the ’01 season.

Wood linked with Wakefield Trinity but switched to Warrington midway through 2002 and was outstanding for the Wolves, playing exclusively in the halves. Not a noted tryscorer in Australia, Wood crossed for 46 tries in 109 Super League and Challenge Cup appearances from 2002-05. He reverted to hooker late in 2005 after Andrew Johns joined the Wolves on a short-term deal, hanging up the boots at the end of the year at the age of 33.

[YouTube – James Gould]

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