St Helens blew away reigning champions Wigan Warriors to confirm their place in a record 11th Grand Final.
However, head coach Justin Holbrook told Merseysportlive the pressure for them to go and win at Old Trafford can be a “privilege.”
At the end of July, Holbrook confirmed he would be leaving to join Gold Coast Titans in Australia after the current campaign with the Saints.
While on Merseyside, Holbrook has helped the Saints to two league leader’s shields.
However, the job is not finished and there is still one game to go before he can start packing his things.
Friday night saw one of the most complete Saints performances of the season.
A 40-10 victory over an in-form Warriors side was everything Holbrook could have wanted, especially as it confirmed his sides place at Old Trafford for the first time in five years.
But with victory, comes pressure and a lot of it. After a very consistent season in 2018, bookmakers made Saints one of the favourites for Grand Final success.
They dealt with that pressure pretty well, so well they finished the season a record 16-points clear at the top of the table, a Super League record.
But Holbrook revealed that the pressure to lift the trophy will be no different.
“No, I think that we have had that tag surrounding us every week and have handled that well,” said Holbrook at St Helens training facility on the outskirts of the town.
“Pressure is also a privilege as well, we are going to play Wigan or Salford, only two teams can play in the Grand Final, which means there is pressure on both sides to win.
“Nobody knows that better than me and our team, we haven’t been there for the last two years.
“So there is pressure there, but that is what we want.
Super League CEO, Robert Elstone, started his tenure as the head of Super League with a bang.
A new playoff system was introduced at the start of the 2019 competition with an extra team been included in the playoffs for the first time. This new ruling, in the end, was kind to the Merseyside team.
As Saints finished top, they were able to bypass the first round of playoff fixtures and after Friday’s win, another week off is on the horizon.
However, Holbrook feels that rest does not come into it, whoever plays better, will be victorious.
“Look, it is fine either way. I said going into last week’s game against Wigan that there are cases for both sides, Wigan had a real hard-fought win over Salford so they would be feeling good playing us, but then we had a week off so we were feeling good.
“In the end, whoever plays better is going to win.
“So, while we have a week off, we will still be training hard this week and that is the difference.
“We have to train hard knowing that we will be playing a Salford or Wigan side who are both playing this weekend. The boys are well aware of that and want to train hard. So, we will be fine come next week.”
They say that when it comes to a successful team, there is the right balance between youth and experience.
And when it comes to big-game experience, Saints have it in abundance.
Nine of Saints’ 2014 Grand Final winning side still play at the Totally Wicked stadium including Paul Wellens, who is now part of the coaching staff at the club.
Holbrook revealed that even though the experience is important, it is not everything.
“I am sure that for some of the boys that didn’t play there, they might ask them but we won’t make a big deal about that,” said Holbrook.
“I think our current side is different and we have played well all year, so it is about us going there are playing well, whether it is Wigan or Salford.
“So, we will have to keep it as normal as we can, knowing that it is a massive occasion, it is a Grand Final which is the reason we are playing and we all know that. But we don’t need to remind them, they know what it is, so it is just the matter of playing well again.”
Knowing that it will be his final game for the club – in which he has been a part of since 2017 – Holbrook says that it isn’t just him that wants to go out with a win, but the whole of St Helens needs Grand Final success.
“It would be exactly what I want and exactly what everybody wants, from our playing group, the staff and the town.
“We haven’t been there for five years but we have played great this year, so it would be fantastic.”