In his own words, born-and-bred Warringtonian Mike Cooper tells us what it means to play for The Wire against Wigan...

“WIGAN coming to the Halliwell Jones on a Friday night – there’s nothing better in our game I don’t think.

“I honestly think we do it best. Obviously we don’t see it in the changing rooms but we can hear it and feel it all around us.

“With the whole ‘Bad Blood’ promotion, a lot of the videos featured me. My uncle Paul Cullen swung a few in there as well!

“Wigan Week is great to be a part of, but it can be quite long

“The game is in the back of your mind all week. There’s a bit more excitement than usual and you’re a bit more twitchy.

“This is what sport is about. Rivalries are healthy and we have a few.

Warrington Guardian:

Mike Cooper at Tuesday's 'Bad Blood' press conference. Picture by Mike Boden

“I feed off a bouncing atmosphere. It gives me a great buzz.

“I’m not someone who’s going to scream and shout and jump around to the crowd, but this is why I wanted to play for Warrington.

“When I see the crowd going mad on game days, I know I was doing the exact same at Wilderspool as a kid.

“I’d be in the stands supporting Warrington in these games before Paul came and took charge.

“We’d go to the JJB as it was then always in hope that we would turn them over.

“It would always be a physical game before they turned the screw, so more often than not we’d come home disappointed.

“They weren’t really our glory days back then, but I’d be there thinking ‘this is what I want to play in front of.’

“Of course, we have to do the right things around that – be respectful and not run on the pitch like all the stupid behaviour we’ve seen in football recently.

“I am a rugby league fan as much as you are. We don’t hate anyone but for 80 minutes, Wigan are the enemy just as we are for them.

“Then we shake hands after it. That’s the game we play.

“I’ve not given Wigan’s form a second thought. I couldn’t even tell you who they’ve played in the past couple of weeks.

“Whatever they have got going on at the moment isn’t a focus for me.

“Every club has bad times – look at the start we had last year.

“We lost four out of the first six and we did alright in the end.

“Things turn around pretty quickly but let’s hope this week isn’t the start of that for them.

“For the lads who haven’t played in this fixture before, I’d tell them to just go about their own game.

“The atmosphere will hit them pretty quickly when they go out for warm-up.

“We’ve got to play at a high intensity and with great speed. We’re very fit and we can keep that going for long periods of time.

“Control the ball, embrace it and enjoy it.

“Last week was a big improvement on our completion – I think we were around 80 per cent for the whole game and 100 per cent for the first half.

“We like to throw the ball around, offload and be entertaining and sometimes completion rates can struggle because of that.

“I think we’re number one in penalties conceded as well.

“A lot of them are just in yardage. We’ve got to cut them out as they really hurt us as well as ones that are just hands on the ball and things like that.

“I think we’ve had some rough calls go against us this year, but we need to improve on our discipline.

“If we can pack that stadium out as much as we can, that’s going to make kids want to play for Warrington. That’s all I can stress.

“I want more Warringtonians playing for this club.”