Flanagan set for biggest game
St Helens forward Mark Flanagan believes Saturday's Challenge Cup quarter-final against Wigan is Saints' biggest game of the season.
Flanagan has never tasted victory in the derby encounter - having lost twice in the colours of Wigan before ending up on the losing team with Saints this season.
But Flanagan, who joined Saints after two years in Australia with Wests Tigers, admits Saturday's game is the one that matters most.
"They are great games to play in," said the 24-year-old.
"It is my fourth derby and I've lost all three so far. Hopefully this week I can make up for it.
"I've never played a derby at Wigan and I am looking forward to it. It will be a tough game for us. They are a good side who are playing well.
"I have no doubt their fans will make it a tough afternoon for us. But there is no reason why we can't win. We have a good squad of players and, if we perform, then we will have a great chance.
"We spoke this week as a squad about it being the biggest game for us all season. The Challenge Cup is still a great competition and hopefully we can be in the hat for the semi-finals."
Flanagan, who began his professional career at Bradford, admits there was a time when he could never have contemplated playing for St Helens.
"They were always the enemy," he said.
"Ask any Saints lad if he could imagine playing for Wigan and he would say 'no way'. I guess I went through a different route."
Flanagan played under current Wigan boss Shaun Wane for the club's Under-20s before breaking into the first team under Brian Noble towards the end of the 2009 season but had already agreed to join Wests Tigers by then.
"I've fond memories of my time at Wigan," he said.
"I was probably just establishing myself but I had signed to go to Australia and it was a great option for me.
"There were a lot of good back rowers and loose forwards at Wigan and I might not have been fortunate to play too much if I had stayed.
"I keep in contact with a few of the boys - Sam Tomkins, Paul Prescott and a few of the others - but they'll be enemies for 80 minutes on Saturday."
Wane knows all about the threat Flanagan will present in Saturday's quarter-final at the DW Stadium.
"Flash is a good player and a good kid," he said.
"He's not the biggest but he's tough and he's skilful. He'll be an asset to St Helens and a player we need to watch."