‘Flawless’ performance needed against Warriors

Saints Player Jon Wilkin
Saints Player Jon Wilkin
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JON Wilkin says Saints must produce a “flawless” performance if they want to end their run of Grand Final heartache.

But the second rower, who has played in all five previous season deciders, wants to see a return to earth after their heavenly display against Wigan.

“It was an important game – one of the best and a great result, because they are the champions and cup holders, but that is all it is,” said the England ace. “We can’t get carried away by looking too far into future.”

However, dismantling a Wigan side who’ve looked nailed on favourites to reach Old Trafford was no mean feat, and Wilkin knows there are several importance lessons to be drawn from the game.

“The big word we should be talking about this week is intensity,” he said.

“If you watched all the games over the play-off weekend, the game with the most intensity, the game that had that ferocity, was our game.

“If we want to progress, then we are going to have to keep producing that level of intensity.

“During my time here, I’ve come to understand that to win big games like this one we need to have focus and aggression.

“If there is one thing we should learn from the previous Grand Finals, then it is that maybe we have produced good performances but lost the game during a 10 minute blip.

“It’s time for us to produce a flawless performance.”

At 27, Wilkin is one of the senior members of the squad, with Challenge Cup and World Club Champion winners medals in his trophy cabinet.

He’s also endured the agony of five consecutive Grand Final loses but, typically of the upbeat Wilkin, he’s keen to draw the positives from that experience.

“Being in the Grand Final is such an incredible experience,” said the Hull-born star. “It is one of the greatest occasions in the sporting calender, and I want to be part of that, and to have that experience with this group of players.

“You can’t absorb the whole atmosphere and put all that into your game. It is something that – win or lose – will stay with you forever.

“These young players haven’t tasted those losses, so in many ways its a great thing, that lack of experience of losing, but I don’t think it’s that much of an issue for us.”

Royce Simmons’ men will be afforded an extra week off, thanks to their win over Wigan.

However, the squad won’t be resting on their laurels in the build-up to what will be the biggest game of the season so far.

“It’s just a case of through preparation,” said Wilkin. “We have got a great staff – with guys like Matt Daniels and Joey Heyes doing a great job for us.

“I’ve been at Saints for 10 years and these big games are what you live for as a player.”

Wilkin will clock up a decade of service at St Helens, with 2012 his testimonial year.

“It’s insane to think I’ve been here 10 years,” laugh Wilkin, “I have such vivid memories of arriving here as a 18-year-old, living in North Road in St Helens, it is crazy that that was 10 years ago. I’ve been so fortunate, and I’m thankful for the time I have had at the club.”