SAINTS aim to act as party poopers on Wigan’s biggest night of the season so far.
The Warriors are set to receive the League Leaders’ Shield at the DW Stadium on Friday after claiming top spot in Super League XVII, but their deadliest rivals will be hoping to pour cold water on the celebrations.
“The lads are already fired-up and hopefully we can put a damper on Wigan’s final home game of the regular season which would be nice,” said powerhouse forward Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook.
Saints need two points to finish third in the table, and ensure a trip to neighbours Warrington Wolves in the qualifying play-offs, but if they slip up and fourth-placed Catalans Dragons overcome Bradford Bulls in France on Saturday night, then they will be heading back to Wigan.
McCarthy-Scarsbrook said: “Depending on results, we could end up playing the Warriors no few than six times this season and you could be excused for thinking ‘here we go again’.
“But if you are a big club like Saints and Wigan, then you expect your paths will cross a few times and have to deal with the situation.”
The Londoner added: “I don’t think this diminishes the competition because matches between two old rivals invariably attract massive crowds and provide an electrified atmosphere.
“There is also an eerie silence in our dressing room just before we go out to face what we know will be a war of attrition, with experienced players like skipper Paul Wellens and Jon Wilkin saying a few words of encouragement.”
Acting head coach Mike Rush will also be hoping to bring to an end a sequence of three defeats against Wigan this season – two in the league and one in the Challenge Cup.
The 42-16 drubbing in the Magic Weekend showdown at the Etihad Stadium still hurts, and Rush warned: “We will have to defend much better than we did the last time the two sides met to get anything out of the game.
“It was simply not good enough from this club and I don’t think I will need to remind the players of that.”
Rush added: “All we are focusing on at this stage is finishing as high as we can – whether third or fourth – and after that we will know who we will be facing and take it from there.”
n Saints report – Page 92