SEAN O’Loughlin reckons both sides will draw on the Good Friday derby for inspiration in this afternoon Challenge Cup showdown.
While he expects Saints to be motivated by revenge, after being humbled 28-10 in the first meeting between the sides at Langtree Park, he reckons it will also swell their confidence that they have the arsenal to topple their fierce rivals.
He said: “They’ll try and use that disappointment to spur them on but we’ve known we’ve played them and it gives us that confidence we can put in a performance to win the game.
“The boys are fully aware of the importance of the game, not just because it’s against St Helens, but because of what’s at stake.
“We’re going well at the minute, and the boys all know how to prepare for the big games. They’ve played in play-offs and won them, played in finals and won them, so they know how to handle it.”
O’Loughlin had no problem picking out the Saints player who poses the biggest threat to their hopes of advancing to the semi-finals – England team-mate James Roby.
“It’s no secret about how well Roby is playing,” the loose forward said. “Last time we did a good job around the middle and that’s when Roby comes to the front. But there are a lot of other quality players in that side.”
O’Loughlin lifted the Cup for the first time of his career last August and is desperate to keep a tight grip on the silverware.
“The memories from last year are fantastic,” he said. “Wembley is a big motivator, to go there and do it again, it’s a carrot for us to chase.
“Last year, not many of us had been, but knowing what it’s about it adds a bit more excitement.”
Saints are enjoying a five-match winning run and have scored 216 points in their last four games, but coach Shaun Wane believes the ease with which they have won those matches could count against them in a high-intensity quarter-final.
Wigan are also on a roll, having won their last seven matches, including a 28-10 Stobart Super League triumph in the Good Friday derby, although Wane admits that will count for little on Saturday.
“We played well that day,” he said. “We wanted to win that game badly, we had a will to win.
“We’re fully aware that St Helens weren’t firing that day and that it will have no bearing on what happens this time.
“The one thing about their team is that since our game, they’ve not been in a real arm wrestle.
“They’ve had some easy wins over teams like Oldham and Widnes. We need to make sure they know they’ve been in a game, get them in an arm wrestle going set for set and see what they’re like under pressure.
“This is a massive hurdle for us and I will never ever under-estimate St Helens. They are great team and a good club. “It’s got the makings of a fantastic game.” dark days in the Eighties and early Nineties, especially going to Wembley and watching us get beat 27-0 (in the 1988/89 season) - our coach journey home felt like about three days long.”