TOMKINS: “IT GIVES YOU THE LIFT YOU NEED TO KEEP GOING”

Having spent his formative years in rugby coming through the ranks of Wigan’s Youth system, there will be few players as knowledgeable about Friday’s opposition than hooker, Logan Tomkins. Indeed, he was an integral part of the Warriors’ Challenge Cup winning side at Wembley in 2013, when he shared the hooking role with Michael McIlorom.

Four years later, resplendent in the liveries of the Salford Red Devils, he faced up to his former teammates, at Warrington, in Salford’s first Cup semi-final for twenty years. His confidence that we would win then, however, took a setback, with Wigan taking control in the second-half, to run out 27-14 victors.

Now two years on, he once again faces his old club in semi-final 2 of the Top 5 Play-Offs, with the prize being to face St Helens in the Grand Final, at Old Trafford, on Saturday 12th October, and this time Logan is even more confident that he will be on the winning side.

“Although I always felt we had had a good chance of beating them in that other semi-final, and with all due respect to those involved, I didn’t have the same confidence in that group of players as I do in the present group, and this season has shown just how much we have progressed. We now know how to play well and complement each others’ styles,” said Tomkins.

“We’re a really good team when we work hard and that is what we’ll have to do throughout the game on Friday. Every time we’ve stuck with what we’ve set out to do, we’ve won the game, and there’s no reason why we cannot do exactly the same again, this week.

“Wigan are a tough team, especially to have to go there twice within a couple of weeks, but they are nothing more than just another team to us. We have a game plan, which we believe will work against them. We have just been unlucky against them so far this season, but feel that we have beaten ourselves rather than Wigan beating us.

“Hopefully we might have taken a bit out of them two weeks ago, and to be fair it is good to go there, because they always have a good following, as do we now, so it should be a great atmosphere.

“I quite like going back there, and it doesn’t faze us at all, though I much prefer being here, because, when I was there, I wasn’t getting as much game time as I’ve had with Salford.  Nevertheless, when I was with them, I loved being part of such a great team, and the experiences I had with them have helped get me where I am today.

“There will be a lot of pressure on their players, on Friday, because they will be under far greater expectations to win than we will. We can just go out there and give it all we’ve got.

“I’ve been involved in the big games with Wigan, complete with the tensions and pressure that it brings there, but I was also  involved with similar pressure with Salford three seasons ago in the Million Pound Game, so I have the chance of harnessing both contrasting types of experience to bring to my game now. I don’t, for example get as nervous now as I used to do.

“We are lucky to have a number of senior players who have brought with them a wealth of experience from successful clubs, which rubs off on the rest of the lads, so in these one-off cup games anything can happen.

“Just like Wigan last Friday, there have been occasions when we have gone down to unexpected defeats, and we have come out the next week determined to overturn it, because in those circumstances you have everything to play for. You have to prove to everyone that you are still up to it, and Wigan will be doing just that on the back of last week’s defeat by Saints. And let’s admit it – St Helens were really good.

“Most important to us will be our fans and the noise they make, because it does have a massive influence on us.  When you are out on your feet and then you hear a couple of thousand people roaring for you it gives you the lift you need to keep going.

“We may not have the biggest fanbase, but when they get behind us they do make up for that by being so loud, and alongside the Wigan fans it will make for a great atmosphere which will really spur us on, just as it did last time we were there.”

Salford Red Devils supporters can purchase tickets for Friday’s decisive match from the AJ Bell Stadium Ticket Office, or over the phone on 0161 786 1570.