Shaun Wane has underlined the importance of winning today – saying claiming Good Friday bragging rights “is everything”.
Wigan will aim for their first win in five games when they take on St Helens.
In my eyes it’s the biggest derby in Super League without question.Shaun Wane
Among the subplots to this mouth-watering encounter, hooker Micky McIlorum will play his first match in 14 months and Matty Smith will be returning to the DW Stadium for the first time since leaving the Warriors.
And Wane, who has a perfect coaching record in the Good Friday fixture, is expecting sparks to fly between these two fierce rivals.
He said: “It’s everything.
“In my eyes it’s the biggest derby in Super League without question.
“It doesn’t matter where the teams are in the competition, form goes out of the window and it’s two teams absolutely committed. Having said that, the two clubs have a lot of respect for each other and I have respect for what they do, but when it comes to game-day, that rivalry is the most fierce of all.
“I’m from Wigan, I’ve played in these games and I know what it means – it means everything. They’re coming in their thousands and it’s a fantastic atmosphere and I can’t wait: it’s a must-win game.
“It’s who turns up on the day and who wants to win it the most, and it has to be us. We’ve not started the last few games well and it’s something we focussed on this week. I’m sure the Wigan fans will get down in their thousands and make it a special atmosphere.
“This is not a game where you can come in on Saturday morning and talk about we could’ve and we should’ve, we have to do it. It’s game on and it’s the same for the St Helens coaching staff, they’re going to have to turn up and we need to make sure it’s a full on game.”
A crowd approaching 24,000 – capacity is reduced for games which have some unreserved seating – is expected at the DW, for the 12.15pm kick-off. This is St Helens’ first game since sacking Keiron Cunningham. A makeshift coaching team including Sean Long will take charge of Saints, and Wane admits the axing of his friend Cunningham may make the visitors more dangerous.
“Possibly, it could do,” he said. “If I’m totally honest it’s about how we handle it, it’s about what we do and that’s all we’ve been talking about, regardless of what’s happened at St Helens. It’s about how we attack, how we stay patient in certain areas of the field, and a few fix ups from the last few weeks.”