Super League Grand Final: Jason Robinson expects a classic between Wigan and St Helens
By James Pearson @SportsPeo
Last Updated: 08/10/14 10:23am
Wigan legend Jason Robinson is expecting an epic Grand Final on Saturday when the Warriors meet arch-rival St Helens at Old Trafford.
Leeds-born Robinson spent eight years at Wigan, making 302 appearances and helping the rugby league club to four Rugby Football League Championships, one Super League title and three Challenge Cups.
Robinson scored the Grand Final winner in the first-ever Old Trafford showdown against the Rhinos in 1998 and cannot wait for Saturday’s clash, a game which can be seen live on Sky Sports 1.
The former Sale Sharks and England rugby union international believes St Helens deserve a vast amount of credit for clinching the League Leaders’ Shield despite suffering injuries to the likes of Jon Wilkin, Jonny Lomax and Luke Walsh.
Lomax and Australian Walsh are the club’s playmakers, however, veteran Paul Wellens has stepped up to the plate and led from the front according the Robinson.
The 40-year-old, who believes Wigan will edge Saturday’s mouth-watering clash, thinks the game could be won in the backs where Saints Adam Swift and Mark Percival will go up against fellow flyers Josh Charnley and Dan Sarginson.
“It’ll be a fantastic game. There’s almost two games in one there. You’ve got a Grand Final and you’ve got a Wigan-St Helens local derby,” he told Sky Sports.
“Having played in Wigan-Saints games in the past I know there’s no love lost between these two teams. You’ve got that fact where the fans just want to beat the opposition so they can get into work on Monday morning and have a good gloat.
“It’s going to be good. All credit to St Helens, finishing as league leaders. They’ve had a lot of disruption over the season in key playmaking positions, the likes of Wilkin, Lomax, Walsh all out injured which has put more pressure on the rest of the team.
Leading from the front
“One thing they’ve done and that’s being led by Wellens, has really pulled together. They’ve worked hard for each other. They’ve stepped up to the mark. It’s been a great achievement for them.
“Now they’ve got themselves into the Grand Final against the arch enemy they really have to take it up to that next level in order to win this game. As we saw with the Wigan-Warrington game, the Warriors are certainly a difficult team to beat.
“The young lad (Joe) Burgess has had a fantastic year. He’s caused teams lots and lots of problems. I’m sure he’ll do the same against Saints this weekend.
“Wigan have got a bit more experience across the park, the half-backs (Blake) Green and (Matty) Smith, there’s a lot of experience. They know how to run the show.
“In (Sean) O’Loughlin, the new England captain they got one of the best and most consistent players in the league. It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be exciting.
“There’s a lot of players out there from St Helens, flyers like Swift and Percival. For Wigan you’ve got the likes of Bowen, Charnley and Sarginson, so defences have got to be on top. If there’s any lapse these players will make the most of it.”
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Robinson also excelled at union after switching codes in 2000, going on to win 51 caps for England - including a try-scoring display as Sir Clive Woodward’s side won the 2003 World Cup against Australia.
Sam Burgess will now be trying his hand at the 15-man game after helping South Sydney Rabbitohs beat Canterbury Bulldogs in the NRL Final and Robinson believes the Bradford-born star can make the transition.
“After three months I was playing for England and after seven months I was going on a Lions tour. If I can do it then I see no reason why Sam cannot, although he must be given time,” he concluded. “He’s quite a coup for Bath.”