No one is better equipped than Jon Wilkin to deal with the pride, passion and total commitment which go hand-in-glove when Saints face arch-rivals Wigan Warriors.
Friday’s showdown at the DW Stadium will be the club skipper’s 40th derby, excluding friendlies, since making his first appearance against the old enemy at Knowsley Road on April 9, 2004 and scoring one of the tries in a 22-22 draw.
The possibility of achieving something positive this year is genuine and realJon Wilkin
A similar result may or may not be good enough to enable Saints to go into the Super 8s in fourth spot - something which looked highly unlikely little more than a month ago - but four wins on the trot means they will go into arguably Rugby League’s domestic showpiece of the season brimming with self-confidence.
Wilkin said “The possibility of achieving something positive this year is genuine and real as far as we are concerned.
“The confidence we have built over the past month is great. I believe we have started to turn the corner and finally believing in our own ability.
“Make no mistake, Wigan will present us with a big challenge. They move the ball around and play with more instruction than in the past which makes our task a little more tricky.
“But we will certainly pose a threat and I believe our defensive execution and how we execute the ball will be a key factor in the final outcome.”
The fans, too,have a part to play and while a minority made their feelings known earlier in the season when Saints were struggling it didn’t unduly concern Wilkin.
He said: “I loved the fact that we were receiving criticism which showed the fans really cared about the club.
“Had they stop criticising us, you start to worry and become happy at being looked on as underdogs.
“This may have been the case in the 1970s and 80s but it is not the mentaility of the teams I’ve been involved with because we belief we are the best and want to be the best.”