Wane hopes Saints will wilt under pressure in cup derby


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The Independent Online

The Wigan coach, Shaun Wane, said that St Helens will go into today's Challenge Cup quarter-final at the DW Stadium "underdone".

Saints are on a five-match winning run and have scored 216 points in their last four games but Wane believes the ease with which they have won those matches could count against them in a high-intensity quarter-final.

Wigan are also on a roll, having won their last seven matches, including a 28-10 Super League triumph in the Good Friday derby, although Wane admits that will count for little tomorrow. "We played well that day," he said. "We're fully aware that St Helens weren't firing that day and that it will have no bearing on what happens this time.

"The one thing about their team is that since our game, they've not been in a real arm-wrestle. We need to make sure they know they've been in a game, get them in an arm-wrestle going set for set and see what they're like under pressure."

That home defeat by the Warriors is the only one suffered by Saints since Mike Rush and Keiron Cunningham took charge following the sacking of Royce Simmons, and their acting head coach insists there is nothing wrong with their form. "We know if we put in a real good performance, we'll be competitive against anybody," Rush said. "We've shown that. We're in pretty good form and, if we can get some troops back, it makes us that little big stronger."

Rush expects to welcome back the England second-rower Jon Wilkin, who has not played since hurting his shoulder on Good Friday, as well as prop Josh Perry and utility back Gary Wheeler.

It is 12 years since Saints last failed to reach the last four of the cup but Rush does not believe that adds any more pressure on his side, who have lifted the trophy seven times in the Super League era.

"I think there's always pressure at this club," he said. "There's been expectations placed on this club since the formation of Super League."

Wane, a former Wigan player, has made no secret of a burning desire to lead the holders out at Wembley. "I badly want to get to Wembley," he said. "I loved my time last year as assistant but to go there as head coach of my hometown club would be awesome.

"But we're quite a few games away from that yet. This is a massive hurdle for us and I will never ever under-estimate St Helens."