“I still feel like that five- or six-year-old kid the night before the games” – St Helens boss Paul Wellens still as excited as ever for Wigan derby

PAUL WELLENS does not expect his motivational powers to be required ahead of his first derby as St Helens head coach.

Wellens was a regular hero in clashes with Wigan Warriors in years gone by, and on Good Friday will seek a maiden win as coach against the old enemy.

He might be in a different role approaching the game this time, but he certainly knows what to expect at the DW Stadium.

“I always know from a player’s perspective, being a St Helens boy, it was never a game you needed to find any extra motivation for,” he said.

“I suppose from the point of view now as the coach, in terms of getting players up for the game it’s probably the easiest week of your coaching life.

“There’s some detail we’ve got to cover and we recognise we’re going up against a high-quality opposition with some dangerous players. We’ll have to deal with them very effectively if we’re going to win the game.

“But in terms of the occasion, it’s just an outstanding one to be part of. It’s one I’ve enjoyed throughout my whole life, whether that’s as a supporter, a player or now as a coach.

“I still feel like that five- or six-year-old kid the night before the games, still as excited as ever about Saints-Wigan games.”

Another experienced figure in derby matches, and one who will be key to their chances of victory, is halfback Jonny Lomax.

“Wigan are a great side, we know how it is with the rivalry and everything that goes with it,” said Lomax.

“It’s not something that needs to be spoken about. Everyone knows what the game is about. It’s meant a lot for years and years and that won’t change in years to come either.”

Lomax reached the milestone of 300 career appearances in Saints’ win over Wakefield Trinity last week, scoring a try and laying on four more.

“There were a few nice words from Robes (captain James Roby) and Wello. It’s nice to hear the words from people you hold in such high regard,” said Lomax.

“But going into the game, you’ve got to take the emotion out of it, move quickly forward and get things done on the field.”

Wellens hailed Lomax after his landmark game: “His main strength is being one of the most competitive players you’ll come across. He competes as hard in his 300th game as he did in his first.”

The one new injury concern ahead of the derby is prop Alex Walmsley, who lasted less than three minutes against Wakefield.

Wellens said: “He felt his hamstring and felt he had to leave the field straight away. There’s never a good sign. We’ll get him scanned over the next few days.”