SAM Tomkins insists Saturday’s Challenge Cup semi-final between Wigan and St Helens will be every bit as massive as last year’s Super League Grand Final between the two arch-rivals.
Warriors will be aiming for a first trip to Wembley in 13 years when they face the Saints at the Halliwell Jones Stadium this Saturday, boosted by their emphatic victory over Warrington on the same ground in the quarter-final.
Tomkins was the architect of that triumph, which included a mesmerising long-range try from dummy-half, and he has extra motivation for wanting to see off the Saints this weekend.
“I followed Wigan as a kid but I only ever went to Wembley once – and that was when we lost to Sheffield in 1998,” Tomkins said.
“Hopefully we’ll have better luck this year and go all the way.
“They’re coming in to a bit of form and we’ve not playing too badly either, so for the neutral it’s shaping up to be a very close game.
“Wigan-Saints games are big enough on their own, but when you’re talking about a Challenge Cup semi-final, it doesn’t come much bigger.
“I know we played against them in the Grand Final last year but I’m looking at this game as every bit as important - 100%.”
Although Wigan lifted the Challenge Cup at Murrayfield in 2002 - after a 21-12 victory over St Helens - you have to go back 16 years to the last time Warriors sampled Wembley glory.
And Tomkins, who would have been a six-year-old whipper-snapper when Leeds were put to the sword under the Twin Towers, admits it’s been far too long between drinks.
“It’s been a long while since Wigan have won the Challenge Cup, which was a trophy Wigan thought was theirs not so long ago,” he added.
“But we’re playing as well as we have in a long time and there’s no reason why we can’t get to Wembley and then hopefully bring the trophy back.
“I’d say ‘excited’ would be the word to describe the mood in the camp this week.
“All the lads realise the opportunity that’s there in front of us, and we don’t want to let it pass us by.
“Madge won’t want to bow out without having won the Challenge Cup on his CV - he’s every bit as passionate about wanting to win as the rest of us.”