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Last Updated: 12/10/18 4:35pm
Wigan captain Sean O’Loughlin is hoping for a fairytale ending for coach Shaun Wane and his departing team-mates but warns that emotion will only take the team so far.
Saturday’s Grand Final at Old Trafford will bring down the curtain on the Wigan careers of Sam Tomkins, Ryan Sutton and John Bateman – as well as the brains trust of the backroom staff – and O’Loughlin says victory over Warrington would provide a fitting farewell.
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“We used the emotional ties to get us here, the fact that lads are leaving and staff are leaving,” he said.
“But we’ve spoken about the fact that doesn’t give us any right to it and also that emotion can only get us so far, it’s about performance.
“As much as we try to use the emotion to get more out of everyone, we’re also realistic to know that it’s what goes on between the white lines that will get the result and hopefully make it a fairytale ending.
“Waney is leaving on his terms and hopefully in glory. For the work he’s done here as a player and coach, long before he was involved with the first team, he has been a massive servant to the club and deserves to go out on a high.”
O’Loughlin has appeared in seven of Wigan’s nine previous Grand Finals and is hoping for a fourth winners’ ring, which would make up for a barren year in 2017.
“Since 2010, we’ve been a part of more finals than not,” he said. “We’ve been a regular fixture at the Challenge Cup final or Grand Final, it’s kind of expected of us.
“But last year, even though we won the World Club Challenge, the way we fizzled out and didn’t finish the season well, meant there was a lot of pressure going into this year.
“When you’ve won trophies and have a season like we did last year, it makes everyone a little bit more hungry to get out there and get the job done the following season.”
Warrington captain Chris Hill says his side will need to go up another level from their semi-final against favourites St Helens if they are to end a 63-year wait to be crowned champions.
Hill was delighted with a rare 80-minute performance that earned them a shock 18-13 victory over the league leaders, but believes they will need to find yet more improvement if they are to topple Wigan at Old Trafford on Saturday night.
“We’ve got to go up again I think,” he said. “The bar’s going to be raised again this week and we’ve got it in us.
“We’ve put 50 or 60 minutes together in regular games and probably got away with a scrappy 20 minutes and won but you can’t do that in finals.
“It was an 80-minute performance in the semi-final that got us the victory over St Helens and I wouldn’t mind doing it two weeks in a row.”
Although they have not won the title since 1955, the Wolves have been knocking on the door over the last decade.
They have won the Challenge Cup three times since 2009 and have reached three of the last seven Grand Finals, losing once to Leeds and twice to Wigan.
Hill has played in all three defeats at Old Trafford and was also in the side that lost 20-14 to Catalans Dragons at Wembley in August, which still rankles.
“It does hurt and we want to right those wrongs,” he said. “But that’s a totally different game.
“Catalans performed and we didn’t. We’ve got to learn lessons and we have. It’s about taking our chances like we did last week, that’s what semi-finals and finals are all about.”