Wigan legend Kris Radlinski is banking on the Warriors completing their most famous derby victory of recent times by defeating St Helens on Saturday to set up a historic engage Super League Grand Final.
Radlinski, a member of the Wigan team that defeated Leeds 10-4 in the inaugural Super League Grand Final in 1998, hopes Old Trafford will host a repeat of that title decider on Saturday October 10 this year.
Leeds, the defending champions, chose to play Catalans Dragons at Sunday’s ClubCall conference, and are strong favourites to reach a third successive Grand Final, where Radlinski expects Wigan to provide the opposition.
“It will be awesome if it’s Wigan versus Leeds at Old Trafford,” said Kris, who now works for the Club as Scholarship Coach.
“I have fantastic memories of the 1998 Grand Final between the two biggest clubs in Rugby League and to repeat that match would be massive achievement for everyone at Wigan and Leeds.
“There’s a lot of confidence among the Wigan boys but no-one is getting too carried away. We have been in the last two semi-finals and not been able to go all the way but this time there’s a real feeling that things are going to be different.”
To reach Old Trafford Wigan will have to beat their arch-rivals St Helens in their all-ticket Qualifying Semi-final at Knowsley Road on Saturday (5.30) when motivation is unlikely to be a problem for Brian Noble’s team.
“Saints are at home but that doesn’t mean a lot in a derby and this is a really difficult one to call,” said Radlinski.
“I think it’s going to be a crazy night. There’s always a lot at stake when Wigan play Saints but this game is just enormous. I only wish I could be out there playing.”
Instead, Radlinski will lend his experience to the Wigan first team squad, many of whom have yet to play in a match of this magnitude.
“It’s ok for the senior players and people like Sam Tomkins, who seems to have been born to play on the big occasion, but for some of the younger guys this is going to be unique,” said the former Great Britain full-back.
“My advice to them is to treat it like any other game, just to go out there and play for 80 minutes like they always do.
“It doesn’t matter that the prize for winning is huge: if they let the occasion get to them the stakes won’t matter because they could play themselves out of the Grand Final and to do that would be a real shame.”