Where: Old Trafford
When: 18.00 (BST)
Watch live: Click here to watch on NowTV from Sky!
It is the grand final that Michael Monaghan and Super League have been craving but the Australian hooker insists it won’t mean much unless his Warrington side can defeat Wigan at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Since arriving from from NRL side Manly in 2008, Monaghan has enjoyed plenty of success in the Challenge Cup — winning the knockout competition three times with Warrington.
Between them, Warrington and Wigan have won the past five Challenge Cups — an indication of the dominance the two sides have enjoyed over recent times.
However, the last time they clashed head-to-head in any final was in 1990.
A grand final triumph for Monaghan’s Warrington has so far proved elusive despite Australian coach Tony Smith’s side being the most consistent side over the past three seasons.
They reached their first Grand Final last season, losing 26-18 to Leeds, but Monaghan is determined to seal his – and Warrington’s – maiden triumph, with the club having last been crowned champions of England way back in 1955.
“We’re here now and that’s half the job but we need to make sure that we get the result,” said Monaghan.
“We have got experience from last year, but last year doesn’t guarantee us anything and hopefully we have learnt a few lessons.
“It’s been a few years since ourselves and Wigan have played (in the Grand Final) but we’ve probably been the best two teams in the competition this year and we haven’t met in a final yet.
“I’m looking forward to playing them. Every game we’ve had in the last few years has come down to the last few minutes and I don’t expect this to be any different.”
Wolves head coach Smith – a veteran of four previous Grand Final appearances, three of which while in charge of Leeds – also believes Saturday’s match has the potential to be an explosive encounter.
“It’s funny we haven’t met each other in the last two or three years,” he said. “We’ve avoided each other in these finals and in some respects we were probably destined to make a final together.
“Two of the best games I’ve seen this season were between Wigan and Warrington and hopefully that will be matched.”
Monaghan and Smith will be facing a Wigan side bidding for a domestic double after winning the Challenge Cup earlier this season, with the Warriors heading towards the end of an era – especially as far as Pat Richards is concerned.
Since making his Wigan debut in 2006, Richards has scored 168 tries in 223 appearances and the Grand Final is set to be his last before he rejoins Wests Tigers.
He marked the end of his first stint with the Tigers with the 2005 NRL Grand Final title and he’s looking to do the same for the Warriors, who will also wave goodbye to New Zealand Warriors-bound Sam Tomkins.
“It’s going be a tight game and every part will be important,” said Richards.
“It’s my last game for Wigan and to be in a final as part of a very good team and against a very good team, it’s got all the makings of a great game.
“Every little part of the game is going be important. When I left West Tigers I left on a win. It’s got the makings of a great way to end my time at Wigan.”