SAINTS’ Carnegie Challenge Cup quarter final against Wigan may have to be switched to a neutral venue because of a clash of fixtures with the town’s football club.
The blockbusting last-eight tie, certain to be televised live by the BBC, has been pencilled in for Saturday, May 12, but that comes just 24 hours before Wigan Athletic’s last Barclays Premier League match of the season at the DW Stadium against Wolves.
In 2008 Wigan were forced to switch a Super League play-off tie to Widnes because of a fixture clash and the Stobart Stadium is again under consideration as a potential venue.
The Rugby Football League are awaiting the outcome of talks between Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan and ground owner Dave Whelan before finalising arrangements for the four ties.
The Leigh Sports Village could be another alternative venue but Leigh are also at home, having been paired with Super League champions Leeds.
Regardless of the venue, Wigan coach Shaun Wane is delighted with today’s draw.
“I’m pleased with that,” he said. “It’s great for the town. If we are going to get to the final we’re going to come up against great teams.”
Ex-Wigan player Wane described himself as the “happiest man in the north-west” after his side gained a 28-10 win over Saints in the Good Friday derby but he is expecting a toughest test in the cup.
“This is a fresh start,” he said. “Jonny Lomax didn’t play much game time against us that day.
“We know they’re a quality team. It’s about us being intense and doing the same job on them.
“I enjoyed it a few weeks ago and hopefully I’ll enjoy this one. I know my players will want to make it two out of two because they know what it means to me and all the staff and the fans.
“To get them to the DW in the Cup with a chance to progress to the semi-final is massive for us. I’m looking forward to a real tough game.”
After being paired with Super League opposition in the first two rounds, last year’s beaten finalists Leeds have been handed a trip to Leigh, the only Championship club in the last eight.
“I’m sure every club wanted to play us and I’m quite happy with that,” said Leigh coach Paul Rowley.
“There will be no pressure on us. We can relax and hopefully do ourselves justice.
“They’re the world champions so you couldn’t ask for a bigger or more attractive game.”
In the other ties, Huddersfield landed a home tie against London Broncos while Warrington, winners in 2009 and 2010, face a tricky tie away against Catalan Dragons, where they lost 44-16 on Easter Monday.
Catalan coach Trent Robinson believes his side’s eight-try rout of the Wolves in Perpignan will have little bearing on the Cup-tie.
“It’s a big bonus to be at home,” he said.
“I’m delighted with that. But Warrington are a formidable team, finishing first last year and winning back-to-back Challenge Cups.
“The League game will make no difference at all. As soon as you get to knockout games, past form counts for nothing.”