Coach Nathan Brown is desperately hoping to reward St Helens’ loyal fans with an elusive home win tomorrow in the match that matters most to them.
Saints have won just four of their 10 games at Langtree Park so far this year but Brown knows all will be forgiven if they can beat Wigan Warriors in Super League’s biggest derby.
“Our best performances have been away from home,” Brown said. “We've beaten Bradford (Bulls), Warrington (Wolves) and Leeds (Rhinos) and had a good win against Castleford (Tigers) recently.
“Our away support has been great but we know the home fans have been turning up and sometimes not seeing us play our best footy.
“It would be great to put in a good home performance against the team they would like us to beat the most.
“I hold out hope, and the players do too, that we can have a good end to the season. We know it hasn't been smooth sailing so we need to build momentum and confidence as we get closer to it.”
St Helens have been dealt a major blow with the loss of hooker James Roby due to an ankle injury, although prop Anthony Laffranchi is poised to make his return from compassionate leave.
With Saturday's Challenge Cup semi-final in their mind, Wigan are taking no chances with Sean O'Loughlin and Sam Tomkins yet have props Ben Flower and Scott Taylor back from injury and hooker Logan Tomkins is available after completing a one-match ban.
The Warriors have won seven of their last 10 meetings with Saints, most recently by a 28-16 margin at the DW Stadium on Good Friday, and will be favourites to continue their impressive derby run despite the absence of the reigning Man of Steel and their inspirational captain.
“Wigan have got systems they have been using since Mike Maguire was there,” Brown added. “All the players do a certain job and that doesn't change whoever comes in.
“It is more about what is coming at you and if you are good enough to stop that.
“Wigan are a good team but we need to worry more about ourselves. We've had a good month apart from the home game with Hull KR and produced three reasonable performances too.”
Wigan will have just four days to recover from tomorrow's derby before meeting London Broncos for a place at Wembley and, although coach Shaun Wane was disappointed not to be allowed to play his side’s semi-final next Sunday rather than Saturday, he is not taking his mind off the league.
“I desperately want to win both games but I won't be risking people this Monday,” said Wane. “It's a great game between two great clubs and I have a lot of admiration for the St Helens club.
“It's a really big game in our calendar, one we look forward to and one we will be going out to win.”