We look at what’s being said ahead of Thursday’s play-off clash between Warrington Wolves and Hull FC…
The decision to end the regular season early meant that Warrington finished third place on the ladder and will face sixth-placed Hull FC, who are included after the play-offs were expanded from four teams to the top six.
The winner will progress to face St Helens in the semi final and the losing side eliminated.
Neither side have had much game time, Hull FC have played twice in the last month while Warrington have played just once with a 19-12 win against Huddersfield at the end of October.
“We’re fresh,” said Wolves coach Steve Price. “Unfortunately, we’ve not been playing for a little bit but we’ve tried to mimic as much of the game intensity as we can in training.
“We have a lot of experienced players who understand what big games are about which is important. The boys are excited for the challenge.”
HULL FC HOPE TO END A WEIRD YEAR ON A HIGH
Hull FC vice-captain Scott Taylor says the Hull players are determined to make the most of their unexpected tilt at Grand Final glory by claiming a place in history.
The 2020 Grand Final will be staged at the KCOM Stadium and Taylor, who was a winner at Old Trafford with Wigan in 2013, says it would be extra special to achieve the feat with his home-town club.
“It’s been a weird year and how more weird would it be if we end up coming from nowhere and getting there?” he said.
“That would be sort of immortality as an FC player, no FC team has ever done it.
“We know there’s a lot of hard work ahead, it is going to be the hardest route, we have to get through Warrington, Wigan and Saints but, if we get the win tomorrow night, we’re one win from a Grand Final.
“There was a bit of luck with the format changing but we’ve done everything else ourselves to get us into this position.
“We’re one win from a GF in our own stadium, which has never happened before probably will never happen again in Super League.”
Hull’s interim head coach Andy Last knows how important this game is to the city of Hull and what winning will do to lift spirits in a city that hs been hit hard by the covid-19 pandemic.
“I think the impact of covid on the city has been a big one,” Last said. “You don’t realise how important the sports teams are, but now you really realise it.
“The players have bought into how they have to play with that passion and emotion because this city demands it. It’s the be-all and end-all for some people – it defines their weekend.
“We’re rubbish if we lose, we’re heroes if we win and I understand that because I’ve been a fan myself. I’ve stood on the terraces and know what it’s like, and there’s nothing better than being part of it when you’re successful.”
Meanwhile, Price believes that the Wolves have the layers who can handle the pressure of knock-out rugby.
Warrington Wolves vs Hull FC
November 12, 2020, 7:30pm
“Finals football is totally different. What’s gone before us goes out the window now,” said Price on the clubs official site.
“It’s about doing the little things right and the basics well. If we play to our strengths we give ourselves every chance.
“We’ve got a very experienced group of men here who have played on the big stage – they understand what big games look like which is important. The boys are excited for the challenge on Thursday. It’s about going out there and executing the game plan now.
“I’m extremely proud to coach this group. They’re hardworking and have been consistent this year. We’ve been doing a lot of really good things and now have to raise the bar and keep chasing that perfect wave where we want to get to.”
Warrington have suffered a major blow with the loss of prop Mike Cooper and they have an injury doubt over winger Josh Charnley, who dislocated his shoulder in the win over Huddersfield a fortnight ago. Jake Mamo and Matty Ashton are fresh wing options.
Hull have centre Josh Griffin back after missing the derby win over Hull KR due to Covid-19 protocols and coach Andy Last will have to decide whether to play him at full-back in the absence of Jamie Shaul or stick with Jake Connor, who has shaken off a knee injury sustained in the last game
Hull remain without Jamie Shaul, Adam Swift, and Gareth Ellis, with Albert Kelly having departed the club to return to Australia earlier this week.
Warrington Wolves 21-man squad: Matty Ashton, Blake Austin, Josh Charnley, Daryl Clark, Jason Clark, Ben Currie, Matt Davis, Eribe Doro, Anthony Gelling, Chris Hill, Jack Hughes, Toby King, Jake Mamo, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Dec Patton, Joe Philbin, Stefan Ratchford, Ellis Robson, Josh Thewlis, Danny Walker, Gareth Widdop.
Hull FC 21-man squad: Bureta Faraimo, Carlos Tuimavave, Josh Griffin, Jake Connor, Marc Sneyd, Scott Taylor, Danny Houghton, Chris Satae, Josh Jones, Manu Ma’u, Ligi Sao, Joe Cator, Jordan Johnstone, Jordan Lane , Brad Fash, Josh Bowden, Andre Savelio, Mahe Fonua, Cameron Scott, Ratu Naulago, Ben McNamara.
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