Jon Wilkin doesn’t blame Sam Tomkins for ruffling a few feathers at the other side of Billinge hump after his post-match comments following the Warriors 18-14 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup defeat to Hull FC at Wembley.
Saints are next on the agenda at the Totally Wicked Stadium and the England full-back has urged the Cherry and Whites to ‘smash’ the auld enemy on Friday night in a match which is vital to both sides as they bid for a semi-final spot in the Super 8s.
But St Helens skipper Jon Wilkin who, like Tomkins, will be one of the most experienced derby day protagonists on the park is taking all the banter in his stride.
Wilkin said: “You would have expected Sam to say something like that after the disappointing result at Wembley
“The language was his own choice but I appreciate what he said because he was probably extremely emotional when asked that question.”
He added: “Rugby League is a physical game and the intent to belt each other is there and that’s what is needed.
“Ultimately that gets you so far but the guys who do that have some detailed execution about what they do as well and that wins you games.”
Wilkin is also set to make his 450th career appearance, having played 388 games for Saints since 2003 and 39 games at Hull KR, as well as 22 internationals, and will want to celebrate the milestone with two points safely in the bag.
But he is not expecting Wigan to turn up suffering from a cup final hangover.
He said: “There is no doubt in my mind that all their players will be ready to go on Friday night and will come out of the trenches fighting.
“There is also more riding on this game since we faced each other in the 2014 Grand Final and crucial to both our Super League play-off ambitions.
“It’s not the end of the world whoever is beaten but it will make it more difficult to reach the last four.”