The script couldn’t have been written better. Wigan legend Sam Tomkins playing his final game on the biggest stage – against his former club.
This Saturday, the Warriors will face off against Catalan Dragons in the 25th Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford with an expected 60,000 fans in attendance.
The former Wigan player adds another dimension to the final – an emotional element – which will act as a catalyst to what looks to be an already fascinating game against one of the oldest clubs, and one of the newest.
The Warriors are looking to add to their glittering history, which includes 22 Championships and 20 Challenge Cups – the last of which was won under the guidance of Matt Peet, a somewhat unknown coach when he took charge last year.
He insists the club’s immense history is not a burden.
“It doesn’t weigh,” he said. “If anything, if you reflect on it and you take lessons from it – the traits of winning organisations and winning teams.
“There’s a lot to pick through and learn from the outstanding players, and the players that were behind the scenes as there’s a lot of knowledge and experience.”
Catalans, by contrast, are relative newcomers and having been introduced to Super League in 2006, are now seeking their first title.
Dragons head coach Steve McNamara said: “We haven’t got the rich history that Wigan Warriors have and we have borrowed some of the players off them.
“Winning has been embedded in their club for a number of years and they’ve really helped us blossom and grow.”
McNamara, conversely, is the longest reigning coach at any club in the Super League and his six and a half years at Catalan has lifted them from a club in crisis to hardened winners.
His recruitment strategy of opting for attitude over reputation set the standards high and helped to instill a new culture at Catalan and across French Rugby League.
He added: “Some of the players we brought in, Micky McIlorum and Tomkins, brought the standards, but our French players are as professional as any players you will see in the competition.
“With our young players coming through and following the example of the Senior players, it’s been good to see.”