Wigan coach Shaun Wane insists opponents Leeds do not have the monopoly on sentiment going into Saturday’s Grand Final.
The Rhinos will bid farewell to decorated trio Jamie Peacock, Kylie Leuluai and captain Kevin Sinfield at the end of the Old Trafford title decider and have spoken of their desire to send them out on a high.
But Wigan full-back Matty Bowen will retire after the game and Joe Burgess and Larne Patrick will also play their final games for the club as they head to Sydney Roosters and Huddersfield respectively for 2016, while Wane believes there is also a burning desire from the players who have yet to win a trophy.
“For all the respect I’ve got for those three players who are retiring, the thing I’m concerned about is my own club and we have our own reasons,” Wane said.
“Matty Bowen, one of the best players in the world, has never won a Grand Final and that means a lot to the players. They love him to pieces.
“Tony Clubb gave up a lot coming from London and bought into our club. He’s never won anything and he came to us to win things.
“Ben Flower has also never won anything, so there’s quite a few reasons we want to make sure we get something from this game.
“Leeds have their reasons and we have ours.”
Wigan captain Sean O’Loughlin confirmed the Warriors will seek to use the emotion generated by the departures as extra motivation to go one step further after last year’s defeat by St Helens.
“The Leeds boys who are leaving are all world-class players and I’m sure they will use that to motivate the rest of the squad but we’re in a similar position,” he said.
“Matty Bowen has only been here two years but he’s been an absolutely fantastic player and he’s personally desperate to win a Grand Final.
“When you see that in blokes like him who are coming to the end of their careers and are desperate to win stuff, it does generate some emotion around the squad. Leeds are using that and we’ll try to use it as well.
“Budgie (Burgess) as well is moving on. He’s a Wigan lad and he doesn’t know whether he’ll be back in years to come or not. His focus will be on finishing on a high and again the boys will want to help him do that.”
Wane guided his team to Grand Final success at the hands of Warrington in 2013 but says he is still hurting by last year’s 14-6 defeat by their arch rivals which followed the second-minute dismissal of Flower.
“I’ve never got over it, although part of me thinks it was a moral victory for us, I genuinely think that,” Wane said. “Playing with 12 men for 78 minutes was a great effort for the players that stayed on the field.”
Although Leeds have never beaten Wigan in a major final, it is two wins a piece so far this season and Wane is expecting a close encounter.
“It’s two very evenly matched teams,” he said. “It’s got the making of an absolute classic.
“Leeds have got that many good athletes and they are very well coached. They’re not very structured in the way they attack, they’re very second phase, very reactive, so it’s a different challenge to the one from St Helens, who are very structured like us. It’s a big challenge.
“It’s got all the makings of a close game but we’ve got to make sure we’re on the right side of it. I don’t want to be the coach of a team that has played well in a close game and lost.
“I’m not interested in that. I want a ring on the players’ fingers. I want us to get something out of this year.”