Wigan have the mentality for Grand Final glory, says Fielden

By Harry West 7 October 2016
Wigan have the mentality for Grand Final glory, says Fielden

Wigan have the mental fortitude to cope without key members of their squad in the Super League Grand Final, according to former Warrior Stuart Fielden.

The Warriors will come up against Warrington Wolves - the side they beat in the 2013 showpiece - at Old Trafford on Saturday, aiming to assuage the disappointment of final defeats to St Helens and Leeds Rhinos in the last two years.

Fielden is more than familiar with the big stage, having won Super League on three occasions with Bradford Bulls before helping Wigan to Grand Final glory in 2010.

The Warriors go into Saturday's clash without a number of key personnel, including the likes of Sam and Joel Tomkins, Michael McIlorum and Dom Manfredi.

But Fielden believes his former club are capable of prevailing this weekend and ensuring Warrington's wait for a first win at Old Trafford goes on.

"Experience is always a benefit, particularly Grand Final experience," he told Omnisport.

"Wigan have players that have been to Old Trafford and won, although some will be missing on the day which is a massive blow.

"It would be a massive thing for Wigan winning with five key members out. If anyone has the mindset I think it's them.

"Psychology is a big part of rugby and even more so in finals. Saints [St Helens] lost five on the bounce before their last win.

"You can end any kind of streak in one game. When you are in those tough do or die minutes, that is when it really counts."

Warrington claimed the League Leaders' Shield, finishing a point clear of second-placed Wigan, but it was the Warriors who landed a significant psychological blow in the sides' most recent meeting three weeks ago.

The Warriors were 28-14 behind and a man light following Ben Flower's red card but stormed back, scoring 21 unanswered points in the final 20 minutes to win 35-28.

"It's a shot in the arm for Wigan," added Fielden, who also featured in three losing finals with the Bulls. "To do that against Warrington with a man down has to go down as one of Wigan's best wins in the last 10 years.

"Wigan certainly have the mental capacity to deal with adversity and pressure, which Grand Finals are full of.

"It's a massive thing to win a final. I always found losing was a bigger low than winning was a high.

"Both teams come in on the back of tough convincing wins in the semis. Both are also missing key players, and Wigan are missing bigger key players than Warrington.

"But they can draw on the win coming from behind with a man down as motivation. I'm sure Shaun [Wane, the Warriors head coach] will be using that. It will reinforce Wigan's relentless mindset."

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Harry West