Having played in seven Ladbrokes Challenge Cup finals during his glittering career, there was only one man for the job of previewing Saturday’s Wembley showdown between Hull FC and Warrington Wolves. The one and only Kevin Sinfield.
Ladbrokes News caught up with the 2014 and 2015 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup winner – and newly-appointed RFL rugby director – to ask who he was tipping for victory.
“The final is a really tough one to call”, Sinfield told us. “I played under Tony Smith for a number of years and he’s someone I massively admire.”
However, it’s the Hull FC captain and Sinfield’s former teammate who he feels would greatly deserve the honour, with the 35-year-old telling us.
“Tony has won the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup before, so I think it would be great to see Gareth Ellis lift the trophy. He’s a great competitor and someone I enjoyed playing alongside at Leeds Rhinos.”
Whichever way the result goes, one thing Sinfield is already beaming about is the fan fervour which Saturday’s final has whipped up – but he’s not surprised that the Airlie Birds and the Wire are drawing in the fans.
“Rugby League is going from strength to strength in Britain”, the seven-time Super League winner told us. “We’ve never struggled to sell the Challenge Cup to fans, but the sheer number of people who’ve bought tickets to Wembley [over 70,000] shows what good shape the game is in.”
He continued: “Promoting the sport is something we [at the RFL] will continue to work on, and there’s always room for improvement – but Rugby League is in good health right now, and there are many people who should be applauded for that.”
Chief among them, for Sinfield, are the players: “People are turning up in huge numbers for the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final, and a big part of that is that the athletes on show for teams like Hull FC and Warrington are phenomenal.”
So, will Wolves coach Tony Smith get his hands on the trophy for the fourth time in eight seasons, or is this Gareth Ellis’ time to lift the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup?
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing