Big match preview: St Helens boss 'expecting a great spectacle'

St Helens captain James Roby, left, and Wigan Warriors captain Sean O'Loughlin with the Super League trophy at the season launch at Old Trafford
St Helens captain James Roby, left, and Wigan Warriors captain Sean O'Loughlin with the Super League trophy at the season launch at Old Trafford
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St Helens and Wigan Warriors will launch the new Super League season with an eagerly-awaited showdown which fans believe will produce a sporting extravaganza at a jam-packed Totally Wicked Stadium on Thursday night.


''I'm expecting a great spectacle and while it is only round one, it could be a barometer for how both clubs perform in the next nine months,'' said St Helens head coach Justin Holbrook, who will be at the helm for his sixth derby day encounter since arriving from Australia.

He said: ''It's great for two old rivals to be involved in the opening fixture. As well as the fans inside the stadium, others who live outside St Helens or Wigan will tune-in to the TV coverage and watch the match with great interest.''

Holbrook is expecting his opposite number, Adrian Lam, to try and stamp his own brand of rugby on the players under his command.

''Adrian will bring his own touches to the game and being an ex-half back and an attacking player during his on-field career, I believe he will encourage that style of play, '' said the St Helens, boss, who admitted it was a bitter pill to swallow when their deadly rivals triumphed 12-4 over Warrington Wolves in the Old Trafford Grand Final last October.

''It hurt at the time to watch our neighbours lift the trophy but there will be no similar feelings on Thursday. It's the start of a new season and there is everything to play for."

Lam, who played for the Cherry and Whites from 2001 to 2004, said: "We have some testing encounters in the opening weeks of the season and after the derby we will be at home to Leeds Rhinos and then entertain NRL Premiership outfit Sydney Roosters in the World Club Challenge on Sunday, February 17.

''It is a tough schedule but at this moment in time I will only be focusing on the St Helens fixture and hope we can come away with the right result."

Saints have already taken steps to protect the playing surface in the event of freezing conditions and possibly snow which is forecast for the next few days.