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Saints set themselves a target to beat Wigan and finish third
10:26am Thursday 6th September 2012 in Latest News
IT is probably not the best bit of planning to pitch Saints against Wigan on the last round of the regular Super League fixtures given the likelihood of them facing each other in the subsequent week’s play-off openers - but that is what we have on Friday.
Potentially this clash could be the fourth of SIX encounters this term which can detract from the spectacle and intensity of this fixture.
There is the potential for the game to be something of a phoney war – with Wigan being presented with the League Leaders Shield on Friday and Saints simply jostling for third or fourth spot.
Nevertheless, diminished or not, it is a derby clash which means much on each side of Billinge Lump with Saints out to stop Warriors’ combative coach Shaun Wane from declaring a return of 4-0.
Saints coach Mike Rush said: “It is strange how this fixture falls but we have to do our best this week and if we win we finish third and that is what we are setting our target to do.
“It is not great if we end up playing Wigan six times, but that is what this play-off system throws up.
“I am not sure why we are playing Wigan at the end of the year.
“Had we played them earlier it would have been better placed to impact on that final standing and the teams around it.
“If we were not still fighting for third it would be a non-fixture, but we have still got something to play for this week and that is what we have to get across to the players.
“Finishing third is in our own hands – we’re looking at the table rather than who we’re going to play next week. If we do that, then we can worry about next week.”
Saints will welcome back Michael Shenton into the centre, but Ade Gardner is unlikely to come in despite making a return to the under 20s last week. Rush revealed a few players had “bumps and bangs” would not be risked if it could aggravate them ahead of the play-offs.
Chris Flannery, ankle, is still sidelined but will be fit for next week.