WIGAN will have the chance to exorcise a few demons when they lock horns with St Helens at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Saturday week for a place in the Carnegie Challenge Cup final.
Warriors discovered yesterday they’ll face a return trip to the HJ for the last-four showdown with the Saints, having ended Warrington’s two-year reign as cup kings in emphatic style at the weekend.
Despite Saturday’s triumphant scenes, however, fans with longer memories only have to cast their minds back to the 2007 semi-final clash with Catalans at the HJ for a warning that nothing can be taken for granted at this stage of the competition.
Paul Prescott was a 21-year-old rookie on that fateful day four years ago, and he’s determined to do everything he can to ensure Wigan don’t fall at the final hurdle once again.
“We all know we’ll have to perform if we are to get through to the final,” Prescott said.
“I’ve been in a couple of semi-finals when we thought we were going to go on and win and we didn’t, and so it’s all about performing on the day.”
However, the Ireland international prop insists no-one at the DW will be thinking too much about the big semi-final showdown until after this Friday’s tough trip to Hull in the league.
“The focus now is on Hull – it has to be,” Prescott added.
“People are playing for their spots, so there’s a lot to play for every day in training.
“If you start looking to a game in two weeks’ time, you neglect what you need to do each day leading up to it.”
Prescott is one of nine survivors from the 17 that lost to Catalans, with Pat Richards, Thomas Leuluai, Sean O’Loughlin, Gareth Hock, Mike McIlorum, Darrell Goulding, Harrison Hansen and fit-again Stuart Fielden all looking for better luck this time round.
But skipper O’Loughlin reckons Wigan’s ace in the pack this time could be a player who was an unknown academy player back in 2007 – Sam Tomkins.
“Sam’s a world class player – everyone can see that,” O’Loughlin said.
“You see a lot of players come through and they’re a flash in the pan and then the year later they don’t kick on.
“But Sam’s got his head screwed on and he’s getting better and better.
“Some of his plays don’t get noticed – the defensive work – it’s not just about the tries he scores.”
The Wigan-Saints clash will kick off at 4.30pm on Saturday, August 6, with the Leeds-Castleford clash taking place the following day at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium (3.15pm).
Tickets are priced at £28 and £22 (£14 and £11 concessions) and are available to purchase from the DW Stadium ticket office or ticket hotline on 0871 6633552.
Tickets go on sale tomorrow morning at 9am exclusively to 2011 season-ticket holders.
Sales on Thursday will continue only to 2011 season-ticket holders and Ancient & Loyal members.
During this period tickets will be limited to one per person.
Any remaining tickets will go on general sale on Friday at 9am.