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Woolford loving life in the NRL

At the start of the season Zac Woolford was playing NSW Cup football with the Newtown Jets. Now the hooker is starting for an in-form Canberra Raiders side looking to move into the top eight. Things in football move fast, and Woolford is a prime example of that.

Originally signed on train-and-trial contract with two weeks guaranteed, even Woolford would have been excused for not predicting his rapid rise up the ranks.

Those two weeks turned into four, and the rest is history. Coming through the junior systems in Canberra and following in the footsteps of his father and Raiders legend Simon Woolford, the young dummy-half seemed almost destined to play for the Raiders in the NRL.

After a few years away from the club the decision was made to give him the opportunity to come home, and he has certainly made the most of his chance.

Speaking to media during the week, Woolford admits that even he hasn’t had time to fully wrap his head around the last few weeks, which started with a surprise call up to play for the Raiders in their Magic Round win against the Cronulla Sharks.

“A roller coaster is a really good way to put it, it has been really surreal. It all obviously happened so fast so just getting my head around playing in the NRL, I haven’t really had time to sit down and have a good think about it,” Woolford said.

“I’m sure at some stage this year I’ll be able to sit down and reflect, but at the moment it is just onto the next week and focusing on Parra this weekend.”

After the season-ending injury to Josh Hodgson in round one the Raiders have been on the lookout for someone to partner Tom Starling, with Woolford grabbing the position with both hands over the past fortnight. 

Three try assists in two games, including his memorable break to set up Brad Schneider against the Sharks, has led to coach Ricky Stuart keeping him in the starting squad.

Speaking on his role in the team, Woolford is comfortable in the position that he is currently playing for the Green Machine and is ready to hopefully continue his good form.

“Tommy has been playing really good footy off the bench there so at the moment my role is to just take the sting out of the game in that first half an hour,” Woolford  said.

“I’m more than happy to that, anything that I need to do to contribute to a win I’m happy to do.”

Despite his own form the dummy half was quick to compliment the way that the rest of the team has been playing, with their efforts making his job simpler in his eyes.

“My job is very easy at the moment. We have a big pack who likes early ball so my job is just to get them the ball how they want it so they can focus on getting their best run,” Woolford  said.

“Being very tight in defence as well so for me at the moment it is give Papa the ball when he wants the ball, give Taps the ball when he wants the ball, give Jack the ball when he wants the ball.”

Looking ahead to this weekend and Woolford will be back at GIO Stadium for his first game since Under 20’s. Coming up against the Parramatta Eels it is something that he is looking forward to, being able to play in front of a passionate Raiders crowd.

“I haven’t played back at GIO since under 20’s so it will be really good to be able to get out there and be in front of my friends and family,” Woolford said.

“Hopefully we make it four in a row.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Canberra Raiders respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.