SHAUN Wane is promising a “ding dong” affair as the countdown continues towards Friday’s derby.
Wigan face St Helens at Langtree Park in a hotly-anticipated contest in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Wane is proud of the fact he and counterpart Keiron Cunningham are in charge of their respective hometown clubs.
And the Warriors boss believes their deep-rooted understanding about the passions involved will rub off on his players, saying he won’t go down the route of claiming this is ‘just another two points’.
“That’s all I heard when I coached the juniors here, and I didn’t like it, because it’s not true,” said Wane.
“It means everything to people in this town, and in St Helens.
“In the past, when I’ve been here, coaches have tried to play it down. I want to play it up. It is different. It means a lot to a lot of people. And it makes it more special because I have so much respect for them.
“Keiron has done a great job there, he cares about his club.
“I think it’s great for our competition that you have two coaches in charge of their hometown clubs.
“He knows what it means, so it’s going to be a real ding-dong affair.
“I can tell you one thing, my players won’t be lacking desire.”
Wane admits he and counterpart Cunningham have easy weeks as they prepare for the fixture, which gives Wigan – in third – a chance to switch spots with second-placed St Helens.
The Warriors players trained yesterday, will have today off and then have the ‘captain’s run’ tomorrow.
“We try and keep sessions low-key in the build-up, because the players get revved up,” said Wane.
“I know there’s no need to rev them up.
“When you go to Wakefield you do. But not St Helens. This is an easy week.” His remark was echoed by Cunningham, the St Helens legend who succeeded Nathan Brown as coach at the end of last year.
“There’s nothing like a Saints-Wigan game,” he said.
“The coaches get an easy job this week.
“You do all your video and do as much as you want but all that goes out of the window as soon as you cross the line anyway.
“These are special occasions that you’re very fortunate to be involved in.”
But off the field, Cunningham says the rivalry is based on something much more meaningful than “hatred”.
“When it comes to the passion of the game it can be misinterpreted,” he said.
“Your honest Saints and Wigan fans – there isn’t hatred there – there’s passion there because they are passionate about this derby.
“The fans love it as much as the players – it probably divides families, especially those on the crossovers, in that Billinge type of area and it’s good banter.”