WEIRDLY, I didn’t see either semi-final as we were building up to our (Wakefield Trinity’s) Million Pound Game, so I might not be the best person to ask on this!
I know Leeds are going for the treble and I think the fact they have had a bit of time off after the Challenge Cup – meaning they lost three games on the bounce – has actually helped them.
In previous years, that could have really hurt them as one of those games would have been a play-off match.
But, under the new format, I imagine they have been able to reel people back a little and that gives them a better chance of winning at Old Trafford.
I think when we won the treble at St Helens (the last team to do so in 2006) it was more difficult as we were almost straight into the play-offs.
And don’t forget, we went on and won the World Club Challenge the following February too; it was a quadruple so, if Leeds do win on Saturday, they must still beat North Queensland to match that Saints side.
I think this Wigan team is really strong physically and mentally, though.
It started when Michael Maguire came over and now under Shaun Wane, too.
A lot depends on the weather but I think Wigan might win it and I can see Matty Smith getting man-of-the-match.
I’ll never forget playing in that first Grand Final back in ‘98 for Wigan against Leeds.
It wasn’t a sell-out at Old Trafford – I think there was only 43,000 there compared to 73,000 this weekend – but I remember the hairs standing up on the back of my neck as I walked out there.
It was a great atmosphere and, with no gaps in the stands, really felt electric.
It was a very tight game, not much in it at all. Richie Blackmore scored for Leeds but then Jason Robinson came up with that try and I think Faz (Andy Farrell) slotted a couple of penalties. We just squeezed home in the end.
The Challenge Cup final is special because of all the tradition that goes with it and playing at Wembley. But, for me, winning the Grand Final was bigger and even more special mainly because you had to do so much to actually achieve it.
With the Challenge Cup, it was only five games and two of those could be against lower division teams. Super League, though, entailed 20-odd rounds, then the play-offs and then you’ve still got another 80 minutes to get your hands on that trophy.