Match preview: St Helens v Wigan Warriors

After 27 rounds, 14 teams and three weeks of incredible play-off action, the 2014 Super League season will be brought to a close on Saturday at Old Trafford, as Wigan Warriors and St Helens do battle for the right to be called Super League champions.

The Warriors are bidding to retain their title after victory last year, whilst the Saints are aiming for a first Super League title since 2006 – having lost five consecutive Grand Finals in the years since that win against Hull FC.

The RFL have already confirmed that ticket sales have exceeded last year’s final between Wigan and Warrington, with a blockbuster crowd expected to see two great rivals do battle.

The Big Stories and Quotes
Matty Smith only too aware of what it’s like to suffer Old Trafford heartbreak
Wigan-Saints is different to any other game, says Shaun Wane
Joel Tomkins: “It’s like a fairytale return”

This run to the final is the sweetest, says Roby
McCarthy-Scarsbrook proud of London representation in final
Don’t talk about me, says Nathan Brown

The Team News
For Wigan, Shaun Wane has named an unchanged side yet again, as they look to continue their incredible late season form by winning the Grand Final. Hooker Michael McIlorum is expected to feature, despite nursing a facial injury.

As for St Helens, they have made one solitary change to their 19-man squad for the game. Gary Wheeler is the man to miss out, as he has been replaced by youngster Matty Dawson. However, Nathan Brown said on Monday that he was expecting to name the same 17 that featured against Catalan last week – when Wheeler did not take part.

The Squads
St Helens (from):
Makinson, Turner, Jones, Swift, Hohaia, Masoe, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Soliola, Manu, Laffranchi, Flanagan, Amor, Wellens, Walmsley, Percival, Dawson, Richards, Thompson.

Wigan Warriors (from): Bateman, Bowen, Burgess, Charnley, Clubb, Crosby, Farrell, Flower, Gelling, Green, Hughes, McIlorum, O’Loughlin, Pettybourne, Powell, Sarginson, Smith, Taylor, Tomkins.

The Stats
Paul Wellens is appearing in a record-equalling tenth Super League Grand Final this Saturday. He has played in nine previous title deciders, winning four of them. He will go into double figures and join Jamie Peacock as the only players who have played in ten Grand Final matches.

St Helens themselves hold the records for most Grand Finals – and most losses – in the Super League showpiece. This Saturday will be the tenth time they have played at Old Trafford in a Grand Final.
However, they have the unwanted record of losing on the big stage more than any other side, suffering five losses – all of which came in five straight years, from 2007 to 2011. They were all against Leeds, apart from the 2010 clash – which was against this weekend’s opponents, Wigan.