Adrian Lam has challenged his players to grasp their Grand Final lifeline – or face months of regret.
Wigan host Salford tonight with a place at Old Trafford up for grabs.
While the winners will take on St Helens for the Super League title on October 12, it will be the end of the road for the losers.
And after being gunned down 40-10 by St Helens in their last outing, Lam dreads to imagine what it would be like to head into an off-season on the back of another defeat.
“We had a big score put past us last week and we were embarrassed,” said the coach.
“The beauty of our sport is you have a big chance to respond the week later, and we have that now, but if we lose this there is no second chance.
“The boxing analogy is good, because they have to wait months for their next fight to make it right, and I can imagine how tough that would be.
“It’s horrible when that happens.”
Lam only played in one Grand Final for Wigan, when they were battered 37-6 by Bradford.
And the former champion halfback said: “I remember losing that game and the feeling afterwards.. you regret it for months.
“We didn’t get the opportunity to put it right until nine months later when we won the Challenge Cup.
“It stays with you, it eats away at you, and you don’t want that regret.”
Wigan have beaten Salford four times already this season, most recently by 18-12 in the opening round of the play-offs.
“Salford have been outstanding all year,” Lam said.
“We’ve played them a fair few times and it’s always gone down to the wire at the back end of the game. We respect them and they’re in a situation where they’ve got nothing to lose and they’ll fancy themselves from the last time they came here.
“We feel that in these situations we’ve got the most experienced players in the competition, so they need to step up and play the way that they know we can play.
“A lot of them were disappointed by their own personal performances, so it’s an exciting week, not a nervous week.”
And he has called on Warriors fans to turn up the volume in their final match at the DW Stadium for nearly four months.
“Salford travelled in big numbers two weeks ago and I thought they out-sang us at times,” added Lam.
“This is our home game so I hope our fans get out and support us in a big way.”
Kick-off tonight is 7.45pm and the game is live on Sky Sports. Ben Thaler will be the referee.