Justin Holbrook doesn’t think Wigan’s Challenge Cup Final loss will have any bearing on how the Warriors approach the derby.
Shaun Wane’s team were downed by Hull FC in the Wembley showpiece but Saints’ Head Coach expects them to be fully firing when they come to the Totally Wicked Stadium on Friday.
“The last time we played Wigan the atmosphere was fantastic and it was a cracking game,” he said. “I’m expecting a similar one this time around. It wouldn’t have mattered if Wigan won the Challenge Cup by 50, drew, or lost by the same amount. It’s a derby and they are going to be up for it.
“I don’t think they need any motivation and we know they will be ready to play and hard to beat.
“Both teams will come in at their best and both are going for the top four. I don’t think the cup loss will have any bearing.
“Since I have been here we’ve had five losses, three by two points and one by four. We’re coming off two tight losses which is hard but it shows we are thereabouts every game and a consistent side. That is better than the alternative which is getting blown off the park.
“It is an important game for us.”
Holbrook will give Ben Barba his Saints’ bow at full back on Friday – and admits he’ll be pleased to finally see him in the Red V.
“He has been training for a long time and it will be great to see him finally play instead of us just talking about him,” he added. “Everyone knows what he can do with the ball and his running ability, but he also has the skills of a half too. He also has experience and knowledge of the game.
“There aren’t enough players in today’s game who have the vision to play what they see. He is a complete player. I’m looking forward to seeing him play.
“It’s come around nicely to see him play his first game against Wigan too.
“There is pressure in every game no matter who you are. There is pressure every time you take to the field. He is a classy player and is playing in a big derby game but everyone is under pressure in those games.
“He should be fine to do the full 80. There isn’t any pressure on him to do that; there is no clear cut plan that he has to play 80. We are just looking forward to him playing. There’s no point him sitting on the bench to ease his way in.
“He has played the game long enough so he should get out there and get amongst it I reckon!”
As part of Barba’s introduction, Jonny Lomax will move to ‘6’.
“He is ok with it,” Holbrook added. “I spoke to him first of all about him moving and he is fine. All his junior career was in the halves so it isn’t foreign to him. He only moved to full back over the last few years. He is open to it and is looking forward to probably getting the ball more when he wants it.
“As a full back you tend to run around and not get it; in the halves you get it a lot more and he is looking forward to that opportunity.”
Tickets for the clash remain on sale from the Ticket Office at the Totally Wicked Stadium, by calling 01744 455 052 or online here.