Wilkin: Saints v Wigan is the biggest derby in world rugby league

Saints skipper Jon Wilkin
Saints skipper Jon Wilkin
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Saints skipper Jon Wilkin has described the Good Friday derby as “the biggest game in Super League”.

The 31-year-old revealed that the speed and intensity of the game is like no other and told how the prospect of leading Saints out at the DW Stadium was “a huge privilege”.

He said: “It’s a massive week for the club and for the fans. We’ve had Wigan firmly in our sights for a couple of weeks now and it gives us an opportunity to put a few things right from last Friday.

“With all due respect to Hull KR the level of intensity against Wigan will be two or three times higher and, when I look back at my career, the Wigan games are often the stand-out games.

“Saints vs Wigan is the biggest derby in Super League. None of the others even get near it. It’s as big as it gets. The implication of winning or losing is greater - we’re playing for higher stakes.

“The preparation even feels different in Wigan week. We need to train and talk a certain way and revisit some lessons learnt from the past. There’s not many teams we put this amount of preparation in for.

“Players change and coaches change but one thing doesn’t change is the competition and aggression in the middle of the field. It’s at a level that surpasses any other game we’ll play this year.

“The intricacies of the game will take care of themselves - it’s the effort and intent that matters most.”

Wilkin admitted there was no time for sulking after Saints’ narrow 24-22 loss against Hull KR last week.

But despite Saints struggling at Craven Park - and having a poor recent record on Good Friday - he doesn’t buy into hoodoos.

“Just because we’ve had a string of results in the past I can’t believe that’s a reason we will lose a game in the future,” he said.

“Shaun Wane and their guys will be well up for it though and we’re going to get stuck into Wigan too - that’s what the supporters expect.”

He hopes that intensity doesn’t spill over as it did with Ben Flower’s infamous assault on Lance Hohaia during last season’s Grand Final though.

“There’s a line and everyone knows where that line is,” he said.

“People cross it from time to time but we all know where the line is. To play rugby league you have to get yourself wound up to a certain degree but it’s an individual’s responsibility not to let things spill over.”

And Wilkin, who has filled in for half-back Luke Walsh so far this year, admits he can’t wait to return to his favoured spot at loose forward or in the back row.

He added: “I can’t wait for Luke to come back. The most frustrating thing for me playing at seven is I miss the competition. When you play at half-back there’s not much competition - it’s just a million details that you have to put together.

“I’ve learnt a lot playing in the halves but there’s a reason why those guys get paid more than everyone else. It’s a specialist position.”