- Darrell Goulding previews Friday’s U19s Grand Final against Leeds.
- Academy Coach wants his side to take the opportunity of playing at the DW in front of the home fans.
- Goulding: “It will be a special occasion.”
Wigan Under-19s Coach Darrell Goulding says his side have an opportunity to impress as the Warriors host Leeds Rhinos at the DW Stadium on Friday night in the Academy Grand Final.
The game is part of a bumper double header as the first team face Hull FC in the final round of the Super 8s.
Goulding said: “It’s something we’ve all pushed for. It’s a curtain raiser to the first team game and it’s giving the U19s an opportunity to play in a stadium like the DW and hopefully we get a lot of fans down and it will give them a bit of a different atmosphere.
“It will be a special occasion and regardless of what the lads do, whether they go into play in Super League or at other clubs or don’t play rugby again I know the memory of this occasion. A lot will stay in their memory forever and hopefully we can do it.
“There’s some lads that have never played in a game like this. There’re some lads who have been there but because of that there’s an excitement from the new lads as they can’t wait to experience it. For the older lads, they’ve been there and it’s probably some of their best memories (rugby wise) and they’re hoping they can get the same kind of joy after the game.”
Goulding praised his team for the success they’ve had already this season after sealing top spot in the league. The former Wigan winger knows what it takes to win a Grand Final and he wants his own side to do the same, as it will be a record ninth Grand Final win in 11 seasons for the Under-19s.
“The goal at the end of each season is to get to this stage and win. There’s going to be some nerves for definite but everyone is excited and can’t wait for it! It’s all about making sure everyone stays relaxed and is ready to go when they need to.
“It’s hard because you tell the lads it’s just like another game but it’s obviously not. We’re playing in the Grand Final and there’s a lot more pressure but if we can play like we have, I’ve got faith in them. They’ve been brilliant all year and hopefully they can turn up with another 80-minute performance.”
Wigan thrashed Huddersfield 50-0 last Saturday to comfortably take their Grand Final place but the Cherry and Whites know they will have to be at their best as Leeds come to the DW in confidence after a fine 18-40 semi-final win at St Helens.
The Warriors are unbeaten against the Rhinos in 2018 after a 38-38 draw and 24-0 win.
“I’ve watched the game from two weeks ago back a few times and we defended really well,” Goulding admitted.
“They still caused us a lot of problems and we’ll have it all on to stop them this time with their chances because they’ve got some brilliant players. It could have been a different score on a different day so we don’t take anything for granted and I know this is going to be a long 50/50 contest.
“Both teams are obviously the two best teams of the year so I think it’s fitting that we play them but we know we’ve got it all on as they’re a very, very good side. Obviously, we have confidence in this team in general and what they produce as players. They’re a special group but at the same time Leeds will say the same.”
The Under-19s Coach gave special words to Shaun Wane and Matty Peet for their dedication to the Academy as both are set to leave the Club at the end of the season.
“We’re always trying to promote the youth as a Club and we have to thank Shaun Wane for that and how he backs the youth. He’s been well on side with this Grand Final and he can’t wait to watch it himself and a lot of lads have made their debuts in the first team so we owe a lot to him and Matty too as he’s done a lot of work for the Academy and it will be a fitting way to leave them both with a Grand Final win if we could.”
Fans wishing to watch the Academy U19s Grand Final (5.30pm kick-off), must enter through the West Stand turnstiles due the early kick-off time. Fans can then make their way to their ticketed seat. Stewards will be on hand to assist.
North, East and South Stands will then be opened at the usual time of 6.15pm before the Wigan Warriors vs Hull FC game (kick-off 7.45pm).
It’s not too late to buy tickets for the rugby league double header at the DW! Click here to buy!