Grand Final: St Helens, Wigan Warriors and their 'bitter hatred'

By Nathan MiddletonBBC Sport
Shaun Wane and Nathan Brown
Shaun Wane (left) and Nathan Brown will be meeting in a Grand Final for the first time
First Utility Super League Grand Final
St Helens v Wigan Warriors
Venue: Old Trafford Date: Saturday, 11 October Kick-off: 18:00 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Manchester, BBC Radio Merseyside, live text commentary and score updates on the BBC Sport website, highlights on BBC Two in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on Sunday, 12 October from 17:30 BST, and from 18:00 BST in Scotland.

When it comes to sporting rivalries, few are as fierce as the one between St Helens and Wigan.

The two meet in the biggest game of the domestic rugby league season at Old Trafford on Saturday, for the right to be crowned Super League champions.

"There's a healthy hatred there between the clubs," Wigan head coach Shaun Wane told BBC Sport. "I respect what St Helens are all about but my players are coming here really badly wanting to win."

St Helens head coach Nathan Brown added: "It's a Grand Final and it's against Wigan - two sides that have mutual respect, but bitter hatred for each other."

As well as the location of the two towns - around 10 miles separate their stadiums - their rivalry has been built on their success.

What St Helens v Wigan means
St Helens head coach Nathan Brown: "That rivalry, respect, hatred, dislike, however you like to put it, amongst the players and fans, goes to a whole new level."
Wigan head coach Shaun Wane: "This game is special. They show and tell us how much they hate us, and that's the way it is. If we played each other at tiddlywinks there'd be blood."
St Helens hooker James Roby: "Each side are Bill and Jill, and like to get one over each other."
Wigan forward Liam Farrell: "I've been at the club since 13 and it's drilled into us about the local derby against St Helens."
St Helens prop Kyle Amor: "Obviously you know about it before, it's one of the biggest derbies in sport, let alone just rugby."
Wigan forward Joel Tomkins: "I don't think it's really a hatred, it's just a competitiveness with the two towns being so close."
Jon Wilkin gives lowdown on St Helens

It was not an exciting start to the meetings between the two. The first derbyexternal-link took place in 1895, but neither side managed to score in a 0-0 draw.

Since then, Wigan have gone on to win a total of 20 titles including Grand Finals, the most of any club, with Saints sitting second with 12.

In the Challenge Cup it is a similar story, as the Warriors are the most successful team having won the trophy 19 times, with St Helens (12) third on the list behind Leeds.

This year's two regular-season meetings saw a victory apiece, with wins for the away team on both occasions, while just one point separated the two after 27 games, as St Helens secured the League Leaders' Shield for a fifth time.

Rarely are their contests without incident. During four fixtures in 2012, four red cards were produced, including three during a 26-man brawl in their Magic Weekend meeting.

"It doesn't come any bigger," continued Wane, 50, a Wiganer who came through the youth system at his hometown club and played for them for 10 seasons.

"Playing St Helens in Super League is big, playing in the Grand Final is big - when you put them together it's a huge occasion.

Paul Wellens and Sean O'Loughlin
Paul Wellens (left) and Sean O'Loughlin were the captains when St Helens and Wigan met in their last Grand Final in 2010, and will lead their teams out again at Old Trafford on Saturday

"I want to win it more than I did last year. This game is special. They show and tell us how much they hate us, and that's the way it is.

"The game is the biggest game in rugby league. I've played in Leeds-Bradford derbies and this is the main one."

The match will be Brown's last in charge at Saints, after he announced he will return to Australia for family reasons following their win over Catalans in the semi-final.

"It's a big occasion, regardless if it's someone's first game or someone's last game," added the Australian, 41. "A lot of emotion goes into a Wigan-Saints game on a normal occasion, never mind a Grand Final at Old Trafford."