Grand Final: Nathan Brown says Old Trafford tops Wembley

By Nathan MiddletonBBC Sport
Nathan Brown
Nathan Brown will leave St Helens after the Grand Final to return to Australia
First Utility Super League Grand Final
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.

St Helens head coach Nathan Brown says leading out his team at Old Trafford in the Grand Final means more to him than it would do for a final at Wembley.

Brown will return to Australia for family reasons after Saturday's final between Saints and Wigan.

The Challenge Cup final is held at Wembley, with Manchester United's stadium hosting the Grand Final.

"When you're an Aussie, Old Trafford is better than Wembley," the 41-year-old told BBC North West Tonight.

"A lot of English people will take Wembley for the tradition, but from a pure Aussie point of view you've always had Grand Finals there, and that is what you strive to.

Daniel Anderson and Paul Wellens
St Helens last won the Grand Final in 2006 and Paul Wellens (right) will captain the side this season

"Old Trafford, for St Helens, was just the done thing and for the past two or three years the fans haven't had the opportunity to come.

"The fact that St Helens are back at home, in some of the fans' eyes, is great and a reward for the club."

The former Huddersfield and St George Illawarra Dragons coach guided Saints to their first silverware since 2008 this year, as they secured the League Leaders' Shield for a fifth time.

St Helens won 19 of their 27 league games to finish top of the Super League table, despite losing key players such as Luke Walsh,Jonny Lomax and Jon Wilkin to long-term injuries during the campaign.

Saints have reached their first Grand Final since 2011, but they have the unwanted record of losing in their last five appearances at Old Trafford.

St Helens' losing Grand Final run
Leeds Rhinos 32-16 St Helens2011 Super League Grand Final
Wigan Warriors 22-10 St Helens2010 Super League Grand Final
Leeds Rhinos 18-10 St Helens2009 Super League Grand Final
Leeds Rhinos 24-16 St Helens2008 Super League Grand Final
Leeds Rhinos 33-6 St Helens2007 Super League Grand Final

Brown is well aware of the significance of facing local rivals Wigan in any match as they bid to be crowned champions for the first time since 2006.

"When Wigan and St Helens play during the year, it's like finals footy comes early," Brown added.

Jon Wilkin gives lowdown on St Helens

"That rivalry, respect, hatred, dislike - however you like to put it - among the players and fans goes to a whole new level.

"We've played them twice this year and once we were good enough to counter what was coming and another time we weren't good enough.

"That's the big question - are we going to be good enough to stop them on Grand Final night?

"From our point of view, there is very little pressure on us, as there won't be a person outside of our dressing shed that thinks we have a chance. That's the reality of it."

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