There could hardly be more of a narrative for a St Helens-Wigan derby as there is for Friday night’s clash.
A derby between two of rugby league’s biggest name is often enough, but in this case there will be extra spice for several reasons.
The headline making debut of Australian superstar Ben Barba, fresh from having served a 12-match suspension, will provide a timely boost to Justin Holbrook’s men, though Jonny Lomax has hardly been letting himself down in their revival over the past few months.
Add that to the fact that Wigan enter this game on the back of a disappointing Challenge Cup final defeat to Hull, and that Matty Smith will play against his former employers and it’s a tasty mix.
But furthermore, the reality is that this match could be pivotal in terms of either of these two sides reaching the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford.
Whoeever loses this match is likely to fall a couple of places in the table, and with just three to go after this one, it’s a must win for both.
Saints coach Justin Holbrook told the club’s official website: “The last time we played Wigan the atmosphere was fantastic and it was a cracking game.
“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.”
Holbrook has already revealed that the introduction of Barba to his line-up will see Lomax move to stand-off, alongside Matty Smith, with Danny Richardson having dropped out of the squad.
That sets up an intriguing clash with the 1-6-7 of Wigan, likely to be Sam Tomkins, George Williams and Thomas Leuluai.
The Warriors have made two changes to their squad, with Nick Gregson and Jack Wells coming in for Tom Davies and Joel Tomkins.
Last ten meetings:
St Helens 22, Wigan 19 (SLR15, 25/5/17)
Wigan 29, St Helens 18 (SLR9, 14/4/17)
Wigan 25, St Helens 0 (SLS8-R3, 19/8/16)
Wigan 4, St Helens 23 (SLR23, 22/7/16)
St Helens 12, Wigan 24 (SLR7, 25/3/16)
St Helens 18, Wigan 14 (SLS8-R6, 18/9/15)
St Helens 30, Wigan 14 (SLR18, 12/6/15)
Wigan 12, St Helens 4 (SLR8, 3/4/15)
St Helens 14, Wigan 6 (SLGF, 11/10/14) (at Old Trafford, Manchester)
Wigan 12, St Helens 16 (SLR18, 27/6/14)
Super League summary
St Helens won 34 (includes wins in 2000 and 2014 Grand Finals & wins in 2000, 2002, 2009 and 2011 play-offs)
Wigan won 35 (includes win in 2010 Grand Final & wins in 2001, 2003 and 2004 play-offs)
St Helens highest score: 57-16 (MM, 2008) (also widest margin)
Wigan highest score: 65-12 (A, 1997) (also widest margin)
St Helens: Lomax, Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Fages, Smith, Walmsley, Roby, Amor, Wilkin, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Thompson, Peyroux, Knowles, Grace, Lees, Taia, Barba.
Wigan: Tomkins, Gelling, Gildart, Burgess, Williams, Leuluai, Nu’uausala, McIlorum, Farrell, O’Loughlin, Bateman, Clubb, Powell, Tautai, Sutton, Isa, Gregson, Wells, Marshall.
Saints to nick this one, just – Saints by 1.