Derby feels like a final for Wigan Warriors boss Wane
Shaun Wane will unleash a hungry Wigan side at St Helens tonight '“ having had to rein the players in all week.
He stepped in when training sessions became too heated because he was worried about injuries.
And while the league table says this is not a ‘must win’ in the truest sense, it is how Wane is treating his final derby in Saints territory.
The Warriors boss said: “This is Saints week, this is like a Cup final, this is life or death – this is a game we have to win.
“I’ve had to calm the players down a few times. They know it’s a big game.
“I’ve not had to get them ready to get them to a certain speed (in training).
“I need to calm them down, I’m scared of players getting injured – you can tell it’s St Helens week.”
Wane will be able to recall captain Sean O’Loughlin from a five week lay-off and centre Oliver Gildart is also set to return – possibly on the left wing.
“It makes a difference, having those two back,” said Wane.
“Lockers has done it time and again over there, he’s one of the most skilful players in the world – just having him training has taken it to another level.”
He is also expected to continue with Thomas Leuluai at halfback and Sam Powell at hooker, having switched their roles in the last two matches – both of which they won.
Wigan are second in the table, with a three-point cushion on Castleford, and so won’t move position whatever the result.
But if Saints win a third straight derby this year, they will clinch the league leaders’ shield with four games to go before the play-off semi-finals. “If they get the shield they deserve it, they’ve been consistently good all year and fair play to them, they’re an outstanding team,” said Wane.
“I’m motivated to win, but I’d say the same if we were bottom and they were top – we’d still want to win this one.”
St Helens beat Wigan 14-6 at the DW last month and ended Wane’s perfect Good Friday record with a 21-18 home victory earlier in the season.
“The two games we’ve lost, they could have gone either way, so I’m comfortable,” said Wane.
“We know if we’re on, we can challenge them. If we execute, we have a chance.
“We can still get them in the Grand Final but I don’t think like that, I’m obsessed with making sure they see the best of us.
“That’s my focus. To get my best team out there to get me the win.”
Tonight’s game kicks-off at 7.45pm.