THERE were no tantrums or chairs thrown.

But ‘feelings’ simmered away beneath the cool surface as Warrington Wolves and Wigan Warriors came together for their public ‘Bad Blood press conference’ in Golden Square shopping centre on Tuesday.

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It was the latest in a long line of innovative marketing measures - the first being mascot Wolfie’s spying mission and consequent ejection from the first game of the season between Wigan and St Helens - aimed at taking this week’s derby duel to even greater heights as an occasion on the sporting calendar.

Warrington Guardian:

Warrington Guardian:

From left, Steve Price, Mike Cooper, Tony Clubb and Adrian Lam. Pictures: Mike Boden

Some do not feel this match or this sport need such techniques, but others will point to the ticket sales flying out of The Halliwell Jones Stadium and the fact that the raised profile means there are more people talking and showing interest in what is one of rugby league’s greatest rivalries.

Why ‘Bad Blood’? A video produced by The Wire, shown at last week’s match against Castleford Tigers and on a big screen before the talking started in Golden Square, highlighted the physicality that comes with Wire-Wigan clashes and how they can often ‘spill over’ on the field as far back as people can remember.

Warrington Guardian:

While ‘Bad Blood’ was the theme, ‘respect for each other’ was the overriding outcome of Tuesday’s tête-à-tête as The Wire’s head coach Steve Price and prop forward Mike Cooper fronted up to the media and fans alongside Wigan counterparts Adrian Lam and Tony Clubb.

Cooper and Clubb are enforcers in tough teams but even they could not stop smiling when photographers posed them nose-to-nose more aligned to the build-up for a boxing match.

Warrington Guardian:

Warrington Guardian:

It was all rather civilised but a few questions from the floor were designed to stoke the fire and see where it led.

“Around 30 times over the past five years Tony Clubb has had incidents looked at by the disciplinary for being late or high on the little fellas, such as the half-backs after kicks,” fired Warrington Guardian’s Mike Parsons.

“Have you got a plan to contend with that, Mike?”

Before Cooper could reply, Lam interjected with: “It’ll be 31 after Friday.”

Warrington Guardian:

In true pantomime style, after a few ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the watching crowd of several hundred, Cooper responded to the question with: “You are stirring, aren’t you!”

And he added: “Forwards always put pressure on the half backs. It’ll be the same from us as well, their half-backs will be getting pressure from me and Chris Hill while they’re trying to do it to us.“

Controlled and respectful, but the signs were in the words that Friday night’s battle between these two heavyweights – no matter Wigan’s current form of four successive losses – will be as hot and thorny as ever.

Warrington Guardian’s Matt Turner asked if there was real animosity between the two sets of players.

After all, it did kick-off in the players’ tunnel at half-time during the Grand Final at Old Trafford in October.

“There’s always respect. I’ve got a hell of a lot of respect for anyone who plays rugby league and for Wigan Rugby League Club,” said Cooper, a Wire fan a long time before turning professional with the club.

Warrington Guardian:

“But it will all go out of the window for that 80 minutes. We’ll go hard at each other, it’s always brutal and I won’t expect anything less.

“We’ll all shake hands afterwards. That’s how rugby league is and that’s what makes our sport great from other sports.”

And Clubb added: “The same as what Mike said, we’ve got massive respect for Warrington.

“They’re a very good team, who have been there or thereabouts for the past few years and played in many finals.

“We’re expecting nothing less than going to Warrington’s home ground and them being very physical. That’s how the game’s going to be and we’ll ride with that.”

Then the deep competitive nature of these fellas shone through in Price’s words as he answered whether the Grand Final loss – Wire’s third to Wigan in six years – will motivate his players in the first meeting of the sides since that night at Old Trafford.

“From a personal point of view that still doesn’t sit well with me,” he said.

Warrington Guardian:

“I’ve still got that burning desire to go the extra step this year.

“It doesn’t seem that long ago that we walked off old Trafford as losers.

“But we’ve got a totally different team this year, it’s an exciting team and it’s one group of men I’m really proud to coach.

“It’s going to be a totally different type of game this week.

“They’ve not been going that great but one thing I know about Wigan is that they’ll be ready to play on Friday in this local derby.

“I expect a huge crowd so if you haven’t got your ticket get one because two quality teams will be going ‘hard at it’ and putting on a good display of hard-nosed rugby.”