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Wilkin: Best Game Of The Year

Jon Wilkin will make his 450th career appearance tonight and the milestone will come in his 45th derby!

Saints’ skipper has been a stalwart of these tough clashes and says it is a game all the players look forward to.

“In my first derby I got beaten up by Terry Newton so it has been pretty easy since then!” he said. “This game is bigger, more physical and aggressive than any other you play in.

“I am still as excited as when I took to the field in that first one. As a Saints player it is a best game of the year.

“Wigan showed what they are all about in the Cup Final. They kept in there because they are dogged and competitive. There’s no doubt in my mind every one of their players will turn up ready to play.

“It’s a huge game because both team’s play-off ambitions ride on it.

“It isn’t the end if either team loses but it would certainly become difficult to make the four.”

Ben Barba will make his debut for the Saints on Friday and Wilkin reckons his introduction is a real coup for the club.

“Ben’s attitude has been sensational since he got here,” he said. “He is a naturally talented player with a real depth of understanding.

“We’re all excited to see him play, especially when we have Jonny Lomax and Matty Smith in the halves. It brings its own challenges in terms of continuity and combinations but to bring a player of that calibre of player in at this time of year is an incredible piece of recruitment by the club.

“That said, the challenge for us this week is unlocking Wigan because they are a great defensive side. We need to get our attack and defence right – but the intensity of our game has to come through our defence.

“Despite the last two results, if you look at how well we defended we were exceptional. But the more defence we have to do the less energy we have to attack.

“Our defence has been a stand out feature, but bringing Ben Barba in a team with Jonny, Matty Smith, James Roby and Mark Percival makes us a threat.”

Tickets for the clash remain on sale from the Ticket Office at the Totally Wicked Stadium, by calling 01744 455 052 or online here.

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