The fear of losing what could be the final ever derby game at the GPW Recruitment Stadium will make St Helens even more determined to beat local rivals Wigan Warriors on Good Friday according to Saints legend Paul Sculthorpe.
Unless the two sides meet in the playoffs or Carnegie Challenge Cup later this year, next Friday’s derby game will be the last time the two sides meet at Knowsley Road as Saints move to a new stadium in 2011. This combined with a vociferous atmosphere created by an expected sell-out crowd will be more than enough to spur the home side onto victory says the two time Man of Steel winner.
Paul Sculthorpe said: “As this is the last ever Good Friday derby at the GPW Recruitment I think Saints will be even more determined to win.
“This fixture has so much history so none of the Saints lads will want to go down in the record books as losing the final game at the GPW Recruitment Stadium. It’s going to be a full house for the game and the atmosphere will be absolutely rocking so the lads will be going all out to win and leave the stadium on a high.”
So far this season Michael Maguire’s Wigan side have impressed Sculthorpe and the former Great Britain captain expects the England half-back pairing of Kyle Eastmond and Sam Tomkins, who will be opposite sides, to have a big influence on the game.
“Defensively Wigan look really strong this year and look a very physical outfit,” said Sculthorpe.
“Saints are certainly going to have to match them if they want to win but personally I think the game will be won and lost in the halfbacks.
“Both Kyle and Sam can produce something out of nothing to win a game, but both are pretty inexperienced when it comes to big games.
“Field position will be key so the halfback with the best kicking game, who can direct their side around the park, is likely be on the winning side.
Five years ago St Helens recorded a resounding 75-0 home victory over their fierce local rivals, a win that Sculthorpe’s counts as one of the most memorable he played in at the GPW Recruitment Stadium.
“Beating Wigan 75-0 in 2005 is without doubt one of the highlights of my career.
“It’s very rare that you are involved in games where the score line is so one-sided, when you do, you expect it to be against a lower league side in the early rounds of the Challenge Cup, not against your local rivals.
“To put a score like that on Wigan and to play as well as we did that day was fantastic but it will count for nothing going in to this Easter’s fixture. Saying that I do expect a few Saints fans to be getting their 75-0 T-shirts out of the wardrobe ready for the big game.”
Although Saints have consistently outperformed Wigan on the field in recent years Sculthorpe believes Wigan have benefited off-the-field with the DW Stadium providing great facilities for a team to play at.
Sculthorpe added: “Saints have been a world class team for many years now and enjoyed some great success but what the team hasn’t enjoyed is top class facilities.
“Compared to what Wigan have at their disposal Saints’ set-up has looked pretty inferior.
“But the move to the new stadium next year will change all that. A new stadium will help grow the St Helens brand and attract new supporters to the club ensuring that we have a world class team in a world class facility.”