I think Toronto Wolfpack coming over here and competing in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup is fantastic for the competition.
They’re a very ambitious outfit with what they want to achieve, and I think they’ve been a breath of fresh air.
I was fortunate enough to meet their CEO Eric Perez a little while back, and it was quickly clear to me that he is a very dynamic and driven man. It’s exciting to see them in the tournament.
They’re talking up their credentials about promotion, and they’ve got an excellent challenge this weekend against the London Broncos, which will be a good test of where they’re at.
And you know what? I reckon they could spring an upset there this weekend.
Wolfpack have a lot of players who are of higher quality than the division they’re playing in at the moment so I think the Broncos game is a chance for them to prove themselves.
It will be one where Toronto will fancy themselves to lay down a marker to everybody else and show they mean business. They want to get one step up with promotion and they will want to get another round further in the Challenge Cup to help make their name.
Our Hull KR boys are ready
As Head of Rugby at Hull KR, I’m in a good position to tell you how much we want to beat Sheffield Eagles this weekend. We beat them quite convincingly the other week, but cup games are always different.
I think the key for us is that we’re at home. The fans have been absolutely fantastic for the club this year, and I think we’ve even sold more memberships this year than when we were in Super League, so they’ve been fantastic.
I think it’s a game we should win. We’re going to take it very seriously, as we had the upset by Oldham last year and I can guarantee you we don’t want a repeat.
We want to take on this challenge and fancy getting through this round so we can have a go at a Super League side, so there’s plenty to play for.
Don’t be surprised to see upsets
I think Toulouse could go well against Batley, and if they do go through then they could be very interesting opposition in the next round.
There’s plenty of amateur teams in there who will put up a good fight too, particularly Haydock who could do something at Oldham.
And another good game could be Bradford Bulls and Featherstone Rovers, that could be close. It’s a very interesting draw though so we should see plenty of good games.
It’s hard to pick just one Challenge Cup memory! So I’ll have to choose a few.
In 2000 I won it with Bradford and that was my first ever big final which was an unreal experience. You never forget that first one.
Then in 2003 we beat Leeds Rhinos. The thing about that final was that I’d only just come back from injury, and it was touch and go whether I’d play for a while. But it was probably the best I ever played in a final.
The others would be with Leeds when we beat Castleford in 2014. After being runners-up three times it was amazing to finally win it with Rhinos.
And the final one would be when we beat Hull KR 50-0 two years ago.
You don’t often win a final with 30 minutes to go and it was a rare chance to actually enjoy the moment. Plus, for your last appearance at Wembley to involved in a game like that… it’s probably my best memory.
Who wins it?
The Challenge Cup is more exciting than ever, with Toronto coming in, plus your French teams and the amateur sides. They all bring something different and it adds to the excitement.
It’s really improving all the time, and of course there’s always the chance of an upset which adds to the magic. And quite often you can get an underdog which goes all the way to Wembley, so it has everything. It’s got all the history too so it’s one all the players love to play in.
But who wins it this year? I fancied Hull FC in 2016 and they went and did it. But this time I’m saying Castleford…
Ties to be played on weekend of March 18-19. pic.twitter.com/q5rXZx8u03
— The Challenge Cup (@TheChallengeCup) February 28, 2017
Ties will be played over the weekend Saturday March 18 – Sunday March 19 with the BBC showing a live stream of Oldham Roughyeads versus Haydock.
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