There’s something special about derby day. Something different.
The tension beforehand; the fierce hatred during the match; the euphoria of victory and the humiliation of defeat.
But there’s a lot more at stake than local pride when Wigan Warriors take on St. Helen’s in Saturday’s Super League showdown.
Saturday’s clash is the third time the bitter Wigan-Saints rivalry has been showcased in a Grand Final.
Separated by just ten miles, they most definitely are the teams at the very pinnacle of the game.
Neither side has relied on luck to reach this stage – although the rub of the green always helps –but instead the raw talent that their respective squads possess.
“There’s no love lost between the two teams. A lot of respect but no love lost, it’s a game we have to win.”
The bullish rallying call of Warrior’s head coach Shaun Wane ahead of the Old Trafford showpiece.
“There’s a healthy hatred there between the clubs,” he told BBC Sport.
“I respect what St Helens are all about but my players are coming here really badly wanting to win.
“They will be going into the game with the same mind-set. It’s going to be a real rough and tough game I hope and hopefully we come out on top.
“It can’t get any more intense than playing St Helens, it’s going to be special.
“It’s going to be a sell out, a lot of noise and the atmosphere is going to be the best so we will see how they cope with that pressure.”
Wigan lost a host of key players last season with stalwarts such as Pat Richards and Sam Tomkins both leaving for pastures new down-under.
Many so-called experts deemed that their squad was too young, too inexperienced for Wane to repeat last seasons feat and guide them to a Grand Final victory.
“I always thought it would take a bit of time for the Dan Sarginson’s and Clubby’s to understand what we are really about,” Wane added.
“We’re still a very young team, the youngest Super League team in the competition.
“But once they found their feet we hit some decent form midway through the season, we had a bit of a dip as you expect with a young team but in the big games, we’ve won them and won them well.”
Saints, who topped the table at the end of the regular season, dispatched Catalans Dragons 30-12 at Langtree Park to secure their spot in the final.
Head-coach Nathan Brown added: “It’s a Grand Final and it’s against Wigan – two sides that have mutual respect, but bitter hatred for each other.”
Wane’s men scraped past Warrington, who they defeated in last years Grand Final, thanks to a last-gasp try from teenage sensation Joe Burgess.
But Wane, a Wiganer who made over 140 appearences for his hometown club during the 1980s, has heaped praise upon his young sides’ – admittedly broad – shoulders.
“Against Warrington we were worthy winners, by more than four points in my eyes,” he continued.
“I think when it’s really mattered, when the pressure has been on we’ve performed.
Michael McIlorum, a star of the show this season, picked up a cheek injury last week but Wane is confident that the 26-year-old will play.
He said: “We will take a check on him, he took quite a knock. He’s a tough character and he feels more passionately about St Helens than I do. He’ll definitely play in this game.”
As well as claiming the Super League title, the winners on Saturday night, will also host NRL Champions South Sydney Rabbitohs in the World Club Series next term.
Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire, who was at the helm at the DW Stadium for two years before moving to New South Wales in 2012 – guided them to that crown – their first for 43 years.
But Wane was clear that facing the former Warriors’ boss was no added incentive.
“I don’t need any extra incentive, this game is huge for us to win,” he said.
“If we play St Helens in a normal Super League game it’s pressure and a game I want to win but when you put that at Old Trafford and the Grand Final and everything else, it makes it a huge game.
“When we could be playing Souths [Sydney Rabbitohs] as well, that would be the dream.”
Main image courtesy of Super League TV via YouTube, with thanks.