St Helens' Australian coach Kristian Woolf has painted his side as outsiders to win the Super League for a third straight year even though they're taking on grand final newcomers, the Catalans Dragons, in the Old Trafford showdown.
Dragons coach Steve McNamara was also happy to join in the familiar pre-final mind games, shrugging that there'll be no pressure on his team going into Saturday's climax to the Super League season.
Former England boss McNamara says Saints deserve to go into the match as favourites as they seek a record-equalling eighth grand final triumph.
“There is no pressure on us,” McNamara told a joint press conference at Old Trafford on Thursday. “The pressure was last week. Saints are clearly the favourites.”
But Woolf says the Catalans' achievement in finishing top of the table, courtesy of their recent victory over his team in Newcastle, makes them the clear favourites.
“They're the league leaders and there was the Magic Weekend so you'd definitely put the Catalans as favourites,” said the Aussie.
“We can really enjoy this week. You get a lot of pressure when you haven't done something for a long time or haven't done something before. In 2019 there was pressure on us because we hadn't won a grand final for a few years.
“There is no pressure on the group whatsoever this year because of what the group has achieved over the last two years, both in the Super League and the Challenge Cup.'
McNamara believes victory at Old Trafford would surpass the Dragons' Challenge Cup success at Wembley in 2018.
“I think it's the biggest. That's been shown in the build-up with the national interest from L'Equipe and Canal+ showing the interest that is growing in France,” said McNamara, whose side were given a colourful send-off at Perpignan airport on Thursday morning.
Woolf, who is also coach of Tonga, admitted: “I think it's absolutely outstanding what the Catalans have done. It's really good for the game to have someone from France in the grand final.
“I'm involved in international rugby league and it adds to the occasion.
“We've got our own reasons for wanting to win, we need to worry about ourselves and our own motives.”
The Dragons flew in on a private charter two days before the game in order to fulfil media obligations and enable their players to undergo the traditional familiarisation on the Old Trafford pitch.
It is a break with a formula which has seen them fly in on the day of the game for all previous 15 matches in England this season.
But McNamara shrugs: “We're staying in a nice hotel in Manchester and we'll get our team run done nice and early, there will be no excuse whatsoever.”
McNamara has included full-back Sam Tomkins in an unchanged 21-man squad and is confident the newly-crowned Man of Steel will shake off the knee injury that forced him out of the semi-final win over Hull KR.
“He's in good shape,” he said. “I'd be surprised if he doesn't play.”
Woolf, who says he is preparing for Tomkins to return, has kept faith with the players that beat Leeds in their semi-final.Internet Explorer Channel Network