St Helens captain James Roby insists there will be no complacency in the Saints’ camp and is warning his team to prepare for a feisty affair when they take on Warrington Wolves in the play-off semi-final tonight (Thursday) at the Totally Wicked stadium.
Three players were sin-binned in the Super 8s clash at the Halliwell Jones stadium a fortnight ago when they Saints triumphed 34-14 - and Roby is ready for another intense enounter againstb their neighbours.
“If you go in with the wrong attitude, you can get turned over pretty easily,” Roby said.
“It’s a massive game, Saints-Warrington is always a great game. It was a pretty feisty affair when we played them a couple of weeks ago and I’m sure it will be an intense game.”
Saints are the only club to appear in all 20 play-off series since they were introduced in their various guises in 1998 but they have been have been edged out in each of the last three semi-finals.
They were sunk by a golden point drop goal from Castleford scrum-half Luke Gale a year ago but coach Justin Holbrook says his team are in far better shape to reach Old Trafford this time.
“Last year we had to win the last 10 games or so to make the semis but this year we have led the comp from round one,” he said.
“We have been smarter in the back end of the year to get guys over their niggles and to make sure they are primed and fresh.
“Last year we had to keep on rolling them out every week just to get to the semi-finals. It’s different now and we are in better frame of mind than we were last year.
“It’s now up to us to go out there and perform.”
Holbrook is able to pick virtually a full-strength team, with prop Alex Walmsley his only injury absentee and Jon Wilkin, Luke Thompson, Mark Percival and Jonny Lomax all returning fresh and rested.
Warrington captain Chris Hill says his side’s agonising Wembley defeat will provide extra motivation in their bid to reach the Grand Final.
The Wolves were favourites going into the Challenge Cup final in August but were turned over by Catalans Dragons and Hill says the loss still hurts.
“A defeat like that gives you an extra bit of motivation,” he said ahead of the Super League semi-final. “It was massively disappointing and it’s been eating away.”
This time Hill’s men are underdogs, having finished 15 points behind their near neighbours in the league and losing in all three meetings with them so far this year, most recently only a fortnight ago.
“They (St Helens) should be favourites, they’ve romped the league, haven’t they?” Hill said. “But we’ll be ready and concentrating on ourselves.
“We know it’s going to be a tough ask but all the lads are buzzing. The intensity has gone up in the last couple of days and we are more than ready for it. This is why we play rugby, for games like this.
“The other week, we lost our halves early doors and I think we played with one sub for the rest of the game so you can’t read too much into that.”