Adrian Lam believes George Williams is primed to bow out of Wigan with a flourish now there is "clarity" over his future.
The England halfback has operated for months knowing his pending move to Canberra has been one of rugby league’s worst-kept secrets.
And Lam believes he will be unshackled now his departure has been formally announced – starting at St Helens tomorrow night.
“It’s probably a relief for George,” said Lam. “He’s been up and down during the season for certain reasons but, in the last month, he’s found some consistency and I feel his best rugby is ahead of him.
“I’m looking forward to seeing him play now he has some clarity and all this has been out in the open. He talked to the boys and he was quite emotional about it all.
“He said this club has been his heart and soul since he was 12, and he wants to go out on the right terms.”
Saints counterpart Jonny Lomax played alongside Williams in the England side last year and says they will be working hard to shut down the 24-year-old.
“I rate him incredibly highly and I’m sure he’ll go well in the NRL,” said Lomax, a former Orrell St James junior.
“When you play against Wigan he’s always someone you talk about in the sheds because he’s a constant threat.”
Lomax says he hasn’t been surprised by Wigan’s resurgence and revealed he talked to Williams earlier this year about their rocky start to the season.
“I remember speaking to George and he was saying he wasn’t used to the feeling, with what they were going through,” said Lomax.
“I said to him, ‘Go back eight games and you won the competition’ – and that’s why they’re sat where they are now, they are a champion side.”
St Helens have already won two derbies this year, triumphing 26-10 on Good Friday and edging an opening day thriller 22-12.
“We’ve beaten them twice but it’s always our toughest game of the year, and they’re coming good,” said coach Justin Holbrook.
“They won the competition last year, they’ve won five in a row, they’re playing really well and they’re dangerous all over the park – so we know we’re in for a tough game.”
The game, expected to be an 18,000 sell-out, has been billed with the ‘Bad Friday’ catchline.
“I think it’s great, I love that sort of hype for a game,” said Lam. “Winning this would mean a lot to us, we’ve not beaten them this year, they’re the league leaders and have been the best team in the competition for two years.”