It’s almost rooted into the mentality of a British sports fan to be constantly affectionate with the “underdog” concept. Take football’s FA Cup, for example. Every single year, there is a real sense of romance and clamour around a team who does the unthinkable, and wins against all the odds.
So in that essence, won’t everyone with a sense of neutrality be cheering on St Helens on Saturday night? Unlikely, of course – Rugby League is very much unlike other sports in the way we cheer each other on – but after being written off week after week, are they capable of one last upset?
If you believe the bookmakers – and some experts – Wigan are going to win this final at an absolute canter. I’m sure every neutral could agree that wouldn’t be great for the spectacle, we want a close, tense Grand Final that will capture the imagination of both passionate RL fans, as well as first-time watchers of the game.
And after being written off at every available opportunity in 2014, you get the impression St Helens are quietly fancying their chances of another surprise. Finishing top was one thing, demolishing Castleford Tigers in week one of the play-offs was another. But this would top the lot – and it could even be potentially the biggest upset in Grand Final history.
James Roby admitted this week that the Saints have thrived in the underdog mentality week on week, and says although there were “teething problems” at first, the Saints are now ready to do the unthinkable, and become Super League champions against all the odds.
“It’s been a little bit difficult, there have been a few teething problems in adjusting certain things,” Roby admitted. “Ultimately though we’ve done it successfully, because we’ve won the League Leaders Shield and we find ourselves at Old Trafford.
“We’ve covered for each other despite people writing us off, and as a team I think we’ve done a great job in filling in fantastically well.
“It’s really nice to be back here; it’s been a couple of years with us being away from the place, and I just want 6pm Saturday to roll around – let’s get it on.”
Much was made out of the likes of Jonny Lomax and Luke Walsh being ruled out for the rest of 2014, but after a slugglish start to life without them, the Saints now seem to be in a comfortable groove.
Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook admitted this week that it took a few weeks to shake off the loss of so many key players – but they are now settled again.
With Mark Flanagan or Jordan Turner likely to be in the halves – and plenty of youngsters in and around the Saints’ 17, people are writing Saints’ chances off. But anyone who has watched Rugby League over the last 15 years will confidently tell you that Nathan Brown’s men have every chance in the world of creating history.