"We're in for a great test because they're such a great team": Pat Richards. Photo: Getty Images
Australian Pat Richards is aiming to take the emotion out of the game as he prepares to bid farewell to Wigan after eight years.
The 31-year-old goal-kicking winger, who is returning to Wests Tigers next year, will appear at the DW Stadium for the last time in Friday night's (Saturday morning, Sydney time) Super League qualifying semi-final against Leeds.
Richards' farewell has been overshadowed by the confirmation this week of Sam Tomkins' move to the New Zealand Warriors, but he is guaranteed a wonderful reception from the Wigan fans at the end of the match. However, the 2010 Man of Steel is hoping it will not be the end of his Super League career as he sets his sights on Old Trafford for next Saturday's grand final.
"It will be a bit emotional but I'm going to try my best to take the emotion out of it," Richards said. "We need to just go out there and perform and think about our roles in the team. At the end of the day, it is a game of rugby league, it's 80 minutes and the best side goes to Old Trafford. You can't be worrying about players leaving or even thinking about Old Trafford yet, it's about playing a really tough Leeds team. We know we're in for a great test because they're such a great team."
It promises to be emotional, too, for England forward Lee Mossop, who is also leaving the club to try his luck in the NRL with Parramatta. Teammate Ben Flower said there was a collective desire to send the trio out on a high.
"That's one thing we've talked about," Flower said. "For us as a team, we want the best for them. We want them to go out on a high and, if we can get to the grand final, it will top the season off."
Leeds will be aiming to ruin the party and stay on course for a third consecutive grand-final triumph.
They won at the DW Stadium in the last game of the regular season and demonstrated their big-match temperament to pip St Helens 11-10 a week ago, thanks to Danny McGuire's late drop goal.