Wigan Warriors are dreaming of a fairytale ending to an already impressive season with victory in tomorrow’s Super League Grand Final against Warrington Wolves at Old Trafford.
It is the first time the two teams have met in the final, despite consistent strong showings from both over the last few years.
Warrington reached last year’s final, Wigan in 2010 but both fell at the final hurdle after losing to Leeds.
Wigan are searching to become the first side since 2006 to complete the double of winning the Challenge Cup and Super League title.
Head coach Shaun Wane is confident that this year’s final will cater to fans and neutrals alike.
He said: “It’s unbelievable that we’ve never played them in a final before. It is the game everybody wanted to see.
“They’re a very impressive team. They play high-tempo and they’ve got some great experienced individuals. My team are quite young and inexperienced in comparison but we understand the challenge ahead.
“We need to be the best this weekend, in every department.”
The final will also act as a swansong for players from both teams. Wigan will say goodbye to their winger Pat Richards as he returns to Western Tigers in the Australian NFL and he is hoping to end on a high.
“To be in a final as part of a very good team and against a very good team, it’s got all the makings of a great game” he said. “I can’t wait to get out there and get among them.”
“When I left Western Tigers, I left on a win. I’m grateful for the time I’ve had at Wigan and the chance to play in front of a great crowd.”
Preparation is key for both teams. Warrington have the advantage of having played in last year’s final and Wigan’s young team could be at risk of being overawed. With that in mind, Wane is handling them with care.
“I’m a realist and we’ve got a really intense, aggressive team waiting for us,” he said.
“The game against Leeds took a lot out of the boys, so I’m going to look after them this week. There’ll be a lot of massage, some recoveries; training will be kept crisp, short and intense.”
Matt Smith, who is hoping to become the first player to win the man of the match award in both domestic finals, says he cannot wait for the day to arrive.
He said: “I’m massively excited! The young lads have come in and done fantastically well and stood up to the challenge. If we do our individual jobs then we’ll take some beating.”
Image courtesy of Super League TV via YouTube, with thanks.