Talk of Super League’s biggest derby has been a hot topic throughout the week of the division’s ‘Rivals Round’, and now St Helens boss Kristian Woolf has confirmed that he thinks their age-old duel with Wigan Warriors can’t be topped.
The Australian has gone up against the Warriors at the helm of Saints five times previously. On all but one occasion, his side have prevailed and continued their march towards various pieces of silverware.
Despite being in charge of the Saints since 2020, though, this week will see Woolf take on Wigan in the pair’s traditional Good Friday game for the first time since before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking ahead of Friday’s game at the Totally Wicked Stadium, the Saints boss gave his thoughts on the rivalry.
“It’s not really much about the two points to be honest. I think it’s more about what the actual game is, and the occasion that it is, and the rivalry that it is,” Woolf said.
“It’s my understanding that this is the biggest derby in our game and one of the oldest. It’s got a different meaning to it on Good Friday as well.
“The fact that we’re sitting one and two [in the table] all adds to the occasion, and adds to the rivalry a little bit as well. It is more about the game than where we sit on the table [though because] this is the biggest game of the year for us so far.”
Excitement in the Saints squad
Of those five previous battles with the Warriors, one will undoubtedly be the standout for Woolf; their dramatic 8-4 last-gasp Grand Final win in 2020.
Now with the pair looking to be involved in a thrilling silverware chase again this season, he admitted there was an extra buzz around the camp, saying: “It’s the type of game that the players get excited for and really want to be a part of.
“You can just feel in training that there’s a real excitement and a real intensity about everything that we’re doing.
“They love these sorts of games, the big games, the atmosphere, and they can’t wait to get out there.”
As is the norm throughout the Easter period, Saints must deal with a busy fixture schedule.
In what so far has been a near-flawless pursuit of a fourth consecutive Grand Final, Woolf’s side have a trip to Huddersfield Giants to contend with on Easter Monday.
The head coach, however, stressed the importance of the Wigan encounter in no uncertain terms.
“At the minute, we don’t really care about Monday to be honest,” Woolf said. “As I said, this [Wigan] is the biggest game of the year.
“We’re going to throw our best team out, we’re going to go all-out for this game and then we’ll figure out Monday once we get to Saturday.”