St Helens-Wigan derby as intense as ever - Wellens

Paul Wellens believes the intensity and passion of the St Helens-Wigan derby will be as evident as ever on Sunday.

The match will be played at the Etihad Stadium as part of the Magic Weekend.

"You could play this game in a cow field somewhere and the passion would remain the same," Saints captain Wellens told BBC North West Tonight.

"You have a sprinkling of St Helens-born lads in our team and Wigan-born lads in theirs. The importance of the game is not lost on those lads."

Wigan are the current Super League leaders and defeated St Helens at Langtree Park in April.

They also were victorious in the Challenge Cup quarter-final between the two sides earlier this month.

"There's no doubt that Wigan are the form team in the competition," added the Saints skipper. "Their performance at Huddersfield further enhanced their reputation.

"We have the utmost respect for Wigan and their players. We know they're a top-quality side, but having said that, we are too.

"We feel that if we play as well as we can, we're good enough to win the game."

Interim coach Mike Rush told BBC Radio Merseyside after Monday's 31-18 victory at Leeds that Saints were genuine title contenders, a view that Wellens concurs with.

"You know that, along the way, you're going to lose games," said the 32-year-old. "It's how you respond to those defeats. The way we played at Leeds showed that we are a top-quality side.

"To respond from the disappointment (of their Challenge Cup exit to Wigan) in the manner that we did shows that we're a good enough side to contest the big games towards the end of the year."

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