Tommy Leuluai looks ahead to tomorrow’s derby versus St Helens (K.O. 7:45pm)
”We have to make sure we do the jersey proud” – Leuluai
- Discusses successful pre-season with the Warriors
Wigan’s Tommy Leuluai believes the Warriors must do the Cherry and White jersey proud for the town and fans as the side prepare for their round one trip to face St Helens (Thursday, K.O. 7:45).
One of many changes to the Super League fixture list this season is the blockbuster opening round. On facing St Helens in the first week, Leuluai said, “for me, it’s a game I always look forward to so it doesn’t really bother me when we play it.
“It’ll be a bit unusual for fans, but you’ve got to look at it as a positive, what a great way to start the season. All the players have been looking forward to the start of the season, so why not start like this?”
Wednesday brought plenty of snow to the north west, which may stick around long enough to play a factor on Thursday evening. On playing in tough conditions, Leuluai said, “Well you won’t feel your toes for the whole game. They are taking good care of the pitch so hopefully that ill keep most of it off and we can play. Hopefully it’s not too cold [he joked].”
Undoubtedly seen as one of the biggest rivalries in Rugby League, the New Zealander explained the reputation carries all around the world.
“I knew about it before I came to the Club. People said; this one’s a little bit special. I think my first derby I ran out and the crowd seemed bigger, the atmosphere even better. Ever since that game I’ve looked forward to playing in them.”
With the atmosphere set to be rocking at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Thursday, Leuluai described how important the travelling support can be. “Our fans will be here, singing and cheering and I hope we can live up to it for them and not disappoint.
“We have to make sure that we do the jersey proud and put in a great performance.”
St Helens have made a number of signings during the off-season. However, Leuluai believes Wigan still know what to expect. He said, “I don’t think they will be too different. They’ve lost a pretty good player in Ben Barba and got a really good player in Lachlan Coote so I think they will be like for like really.
“They’ve got a few other signings but I don’t think they will have changed too much structurally. Obviously having Alex Walmsley back is a big challenge for our middles but hopefully we can contain him.”
With pre-season now behind the players, Leuluai explained how productive the final stages proved for the Warriors squad.
“We’ve done really well, we’ve made really big strides over the last two weeks. We learned a lot from the trail versus Salford and we ironed out a few things we were unsure of.
“Last week was really good, this week has been good and today in particular, we’ve trained really hard. Our preparation has been perfect and we know exactly what we are in for. It’s just a matter of getting the body ready and performing now.”
Having missed all three pre-season fixtures, the New Zealander wasn’t concerned entering the season without game time.
“I was gutted to miss out on the Barrow game [he joked]. When I saw the pictures of all the mud I was at home with a brew having a little laugh to myself.
“I’ve played a fair few games in my career now so if I wasn’t ready it wouldn’t be great. I definitely would have liked to have played against Salford but it wasn’t to be.”
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