Wigan Warriors: Matty Peet believes the Challenge Cup semi-final against St Helens will be the "most intense" game of the season
Matty Peet expects the Challenge Cup semi-final between Wigan Warriors and St Helens to be the “most intense” game of the season so far.
The two teams meet at Leeds United’s Elland Road on Saturday (K.O. 2.30pm), just a few weeks after the Good Friday Derby at the Totally Wicked Stadium, which Kristian Woolf’s side won 22-4.
Peet believes Wigan head into the game as underdogs, but states every player will be ready for the occasion.
“I doubt that any coach will need to motivate their team this weekend,” he said.
“My job description is to get the team prepared, making sure they know their roles, so then they can execute the plan and show what they can do with and without the ball.
“I’m expecting the most intense game of the season. There’s no doubt Saints are the best team in the country, who are oozing with confidence and are really maturing as a team.
“Nothing will happen that will shock them, so there’s no point focusing on that, it’s about concentrating on ourselves. We are massive underdogs, but underdogs can win.
“We moved on quickly from the Good Friday game, and we are looking more at our last performance than that. We want to execute our style of rugby regardless of the opposition.
“I’ve said it all year, we have to improve. There were some good things against Warrington, but we have to raise several levels if we are going to get the result this week, and the lads are aware of that.
“The players work very hard and make a lot of sacrifices in their lives to play in these showpiece occasions, they know what’s at stake. Both teams will be motivated, but it’s it about who can execute things best under that pressure.
“It’s about looking in the mirror after the game and knowing that what they showed is the best of themselves. That’s what excites the players, and if they can do that then we are in with a chance.
“The place should be bouncing. It’ll be a carnival atmosphere but we have to play our part, and give our own fans something to celebrate. That motivates us massively, a season best performance is required.
“I like the games at neutral grounds, it adds that cup final feeling, it’s special and unique. It’s something people will remember for a while because it gives the fans a chance to enjoy each other’s company, and maybe a few drinks.
“I’d encourage any fan who is feeling the slightest bit excited to get over here. We thrive on their support and they’ve been outstanding all year. I do believe our players respond to the noise they make.
“If we can get the result for the town and the people, to take them to Tottenham, then I will be the happiest man in the ground.
“I’m just looking forward to it for the pure excitement, because the prize at the end is massive and we’ve got nothing to lose. We will genuinely enjoy it, with smiles on our faces.”
Peet says he is happy with how his Wigan side are shaping up this season, and believes the senior members of the squad, as well as his coaching team, are playing a big role in how they are developing.
He also has complete trust in the younger members of his squad and is pleased with the way they have been able to step into the side.
“We’re in decent shape, as are they,” he added.
“Both teams have proven that they trust young players, and that’s the only way you get to find out what they are about because they get to prove themselves.
“We have every faith in Brad (O’Neill) and Harry (Smith), and if they can combine they can have an effect on the game.
“The positive results we’ve had this season has been down to hard work, because we’ve got a very hungry group of players. There’s a lot of desire in there, and our leadership is a real strength of ours.
“We’ve also got good coaches like Lee Briers and Sean O’Loughlin. Sean deserves special mention for making that transition so seamlessly. They share their knowledge to the players of how to play the game, but also how to live their lives.”
Despite this being his first season as head coach, Peet has plenty of experience of preparing for big occasions with Wigan.
He knows exactly what a semi-final against St Helens feels like from the last time the two sides met in this stage of the Challenge Cup back in 2011.
“I would’ve been working at the game,” he explained.
“I remember it well, I’ve got a good memory for games like this. Hopefully we can have the same result. There’s a lot of drama around the game, and rightly so it is built up as the massive occasion, which it is.
“The game itself and the way you prepare, technically, tactically, and physically, doesn’t change that much than if we were playing them in the league.
“I would’ve also been on the edges of the first team for the 2017 final, I might’ve been head of youth or an academy coach. I actually went to watch Hull for Waney (Shaun Wane) the week before the game to do a bit of a report.
“I was always working with the coaches, so I’m used to the process.”