This is my fifth Grand Final, and the nerves don’t change. If anything, they get more intense.
Returning to Old Trafford on Monday brought back memories – good and bad – of my past four visits there.
The first one in 2010 was surreal for me, because I only made my debut earlier in the year and I never expected to be playing in a Grand Final. Luckily, Shaun Wane had told me that Michael Maguire really valued hard work, and I’d like to think that’s something I’ve always been pretty good at.
Not just working hard in terms of fitness, but spending time concentrating on improving your game, and gaining the ‘one percenters’, and it’s something I’ve tried to carry on.
We won the double in 2013, and Waney has already said if we win this year, it would top that – and I agree.
With the adversity we’ve faced this year, it would be really special if we could win this game. Plus, we don’t want to lose three Grand Finals in a row!
Dan Sarginson reminds me a lot of Jay from The Inbetweeners
It was great to beat Hull FC last Friday to book our return.
We had a great start to the game but we let them come back into it and take the lead. Steve Michaels’ try put them ahead. Was it a try? For me, it was a 50-50 call. I’ll be honest, I’d hate to be the video referee having to make the decision!
Luckily it didn’t cost us in the end, Sam Powell put us back in front before Gells sealed it. Everyone was pleased to see Sam score such a crucial try. He’s been battered about all year but he’s proved what a good player he is.
There have been a couple players who have had to step up, and they have done. Lewis Tierney has filled the wing role since Dom Manfredi’s injury, and if ever he wanted to put his hand up and show he can be starting winger in 2017, it’s now. He brings the ball back strongly, and causes teams all sorts of trouble.
This week started in a quite relaxed mood.
On Monday, after walking around the ground, I was among a few players who went to the media conference. A handful of the Warrington lads were there, too, and we all know each other quite well, we all get on – it was a bit too early in the week to be intense!
I’m sure Saturday will be different, because they’ll be hungry to win, just like we are.
To make four Grand Finals in a row is pretty special, but Wigan fans and the chairman expect to win things, and we have big expectations ourselves. We’ll be doing everything we can – but it’s not going to be easy.
Warrington thrive off the back of the quick play-the-balls, and if we don’t take control of that, it can be a vicious circle to break as the likes of Matty Russell and Daz Clark bring the ball back. If you think back to our last game with them, as soon as we slacked off, they scored points, pretty quickly.
Chris Hill, in particular, is great at what he does – and he plays big minutes – so we will have to slow him down and dominate him. We know it won’t be easy, and we know we’ll need to be at our best.
But I really hope we’ve got it in us, not just from a selfish view, but so Dan Sarginson and Josh Charnley get the farewell they want.
They’ve been great for our club. Everyone knows everything about Josh – he puts it all on social media – but it’s been an honour to play alongside him and I honestly think if he wasn’t switching codes he’dhave been in the England squad this year.
Sarge is a pretty special character. He reminds me a lot of Jay from The Inbetweeners,but I’ve got to say he’s one of the toughest players I’ve ever met.