Ahead of the sold-out Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford on Saturday, we look at five key areas which could lead to Wigan Warriors lifting the trophy this weekend.
Wigan Warriors like to take on teams in the middle, with their strike players performing off the back of a solid platform laid down by their forwards. They will have it all to do on Saturday against an experienced and impressive Leeds pack and if they can win the arm wrestle that could be the key to winning a fourth Super League title.
The young gun firing
George Williams scooped up the Young Player of the Year award at the Man of Steel Awards night on Monday evening and the Wigan halfback has played a pivotal role in his side’s journey to Old Trafford. In their last Grand Final triumph Blake Green led the Warriors to a 30-16 victory over Warrington Wolves, winning the Harry Sunderland trophy for man of the match in the process. Williams is more than capable of following in his predecessor’s footsteps and could have a massive influence on the game’s outcome.
Wigan have never lost a major final against the Rhinos and will be looking to keep that record going when they meet this weekend. Their latest meeting in a final was in 2011 when the Warriors lifted the Challenge Cup Trophy after running out 28-18 winners at Wembley. These sides also contested the first ever Grand Final back in 1998 when Leeds were on the wrong end of a 10-4 score line in their only previous meeting at this stage of the season. Shaun Wane will be hoping that his opponents will have their previous failures on their mind and if they do, that could give his men the edge.
Last season’s final was talked about all over the world but for the wrong reasons as Ben Flower landed a punch on the unconscious Lance Hohaia, earning himself the first ever red card in a Grand Final. Flower will return to the scene of the crime on Saturday and he will be desperate to make amends for his behaviour last year, and the rest of the team will be desperate to bounce back from that defeat to St Helens.
Ending the drought
After missing out silverware last season Wane will not want his side to finish the year empty handed again. In 2013 they completed the double with their Grand Final win over Warrington and a Wembley win over Hull FC, nilling the Airlie Birds in the Challenge Cup Final. With six trophies in the last five years the Warriors have been one of the most successful sides of late, so the threat of another season without silverware could spur them on to victory.