The day Adrian Lam played a Wigan Warriors-St Helens derby - and made a fiver!
Playing in the derbies left a mark on Adrian Lam... in more ways than one.
Ask him about Murrayfield, and his eyes light up. Ask him if he remembers the Good Friday win with a team loaded with youngsters, and he says: “Remember it? I’ll never forget that game until the day I die.
“I had doubts, all week, because there were kids in there making their debuts but every one of them stood up – they all understood the importance of the derby.
“The players who come through, they’ve got that burning desire to play against each other.
“These games were the highlight of my time here as a player.”
Lam was at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Monday for a joint-press launch with Justin Holbrook who, like him, was coaching at Sydney Roosters before moving to a coaching position in Super League. It was Lam’s first visit to Saints’ new home.
“I was just talking to Justin, I remember the old ground being a lot closer to the pitch – you hated going there,” he said. “I remember coming off the field early one time, and I got hit on the back by four or five £1 coins. I picked them up and put them in my sock!”
A derby never needs any subplots, but this has them in abundance.
It is, of course, Wigan’s first game under a new coach since Shaun Wane took over in 2012. Zak Hardaker will make his debut at full-back, Joe Bullock may figure, and this is the Warriors’ first match since becoming Super League champions.
For St Helens, there are new faces, the return of Alex Walmsley, and a new challenge of emulating last season’s success without missing out on finals.
And for both of them, there are new rules to adjust to. New beginnings, as Super League are branding it.
Lam has a wealth of coaching experience, enjoying success as an assistant at Cronulla and St George Illawarra, leading Papua New Guinea, assistant Australia and working with the juniors at Sydney Roosters.
“I’ve learned once they’re on the field you don’t have much control of it,” he said. “I’m excited about the moment.”
Holbrook says he expects Lam to add a touch of class to Wigan’s attack, while still being tough to break down.
“He’s put his stamp on things, and for players who have been here a long time, it’s been good,” said forward Liam Farrell.
“He wants everyone thinking about the game, not just the halves – he wants us all smartening up our play.
“He’s passionate about coaching the club and the big games – especially the first one. He knows about the rivalry and he’s looking forward to the first game as much as the players.
“No matter what we do, players are competing with each other day in, day out, and Lammy is driving that – in skills, testing, fitness, there are always winners and losers on the board.”
St Helens have taken measures to ensure the game is not threatened by the forecast bad weather. A protective ‘dome’ has been placed over the pitch to ensure it doesn’t get frozen.
Holbrook added: “To draw our biggest rivals first up, it’s exciting for the competition and both clubs. It’s always the best atmosphere and to kick off the season with it, will be fantastic.
“It’s great to start with a big spectacle.
“It hurt last year watching them win, that’s for sure – but well deserved for them. But it won’t hurt on Thursday, new season and great opponents.”