Super League Grand Final: Wigan Warriors v Warrington Wolves
|Betfred Super League Grand Final|
|Venue: Old Trafford Date: Saturday, 13 October Kick-off: 18:00 BST Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC local radio; live text coverage on the BBC Sport website and app from 16:30 BST|
Wigan Warriors can give departing head coach Shaun Wane the perfect send-off with victory in Saturday’s Grand Final against Warrington Wolves.
Wane is leaving Wigan for Scotland Rugby Union, while key players Sam Tomkins, John Bateman and Ryan Sutton are moving on to new clubs in 2019.
Warrington, in their fourth Grand Final, have lost each of their three summer-era visits to Old Trafford.
The Wire have not won a domestic championship since 1955.
They too have players exiting at the end of the season, as well as highly-rated head of performance coach Jon Clarke.
Both teams are unchanged in terms of the 19-man squads from their semi-final wins against Castleford and St Helens respectively, as they prepare for their third Grand Final meeting.
There are fairytales waiting to be written for both sides which, as BBC rugby league correspondent Dave Woods says, makes this an exciting spectacle for the neutral.
‘Nothing will make me more emotional than to win that trophy’
Wigan have won four summer-era titles among their 21 in total, but few would be as warmly received as one on Saturday would be.
Long-standing Warriors boss Wane, who remains surpassed only by Jim Sullivan and John Monie in terms of post-war honours in his spell at Wigan, has won three and lost a further two Grand Finals.
He was named Super League’s coach of the year for 2018, but personal accolades take a back seat to the big prize on offer at Old Trafford.
“I’ll give anything up to get the trophy on Saturday, I’ve driven out as a winner and driven out as a loser – there’s only one way to go and that’s with a cup and a ring,” the 54-year-old told BBC Sport.
“The one thing about my players is I love the interaction with them. It’s an emotional time, I’ve had tears in my eyes a few times which I’m not used to, but I’ve been here 30 years so it’s to be expected.
“Nothing will make me more emotional than to win that trophy. I’m ready, my players are ready, and I can’t wait.”
‘They’re the ones putting their bodies on the line’
Warrington’s turnaround from 2017 strugglers to 2018 contenders can be in part put down to the arrival of head coach Steve Price.
The Wire have found their spark again; finishing in the top four, reaching the Challenge Cup final and now the Grand Final.
While his opposite number Wane prepares for his final game of a 30-year association with his club, Price is coming to the end of his first campaign with Warrington.
“When I first arrived I didn’t know any of my staff, I knew three players I think it was, and it’s a credit to the owner Simon Moran, Karl Fitzpatrick in believing in me – and of course the players to adapt to change,” Price told BBC Sport.
“They’re the ones who are putting the bodies on the line week in week out. This is game 37 of the season and we’ve used about 24 players to date, it’s credit to head of performance Jon [Clarke] who’s done an outstanding job.
“We don’t look at ourselves too much, I’m more so happy for the players than anything.”
Wigan: Bateman, Clubb, Davies, Escare, Farrell, Flower, Gildart, Greenwood, Hamlin, Leuluai, Manfredi, Navarrete, O’Loughlin, Powell, Sarginson, Sutton, Tautai, Tomkins, Williams.
Warrington: Ratchford, Lineham, Goodwin, Atkins, Brown, Roberts, Hill, Clark, Cooper, Hughes, Murdoch-Masila, Patton, Philbin, T King, G King, Livett, Charnley, Thompson, Westwood.