AUSTRALIAN FORWARD Brett Delaney is confident Leeds Rhinos can end their Challenge Cup hoodoo – but admits Castleford Tigers will present a massive obstacle at Wembley in 12 days’ time.
Tigers crushed Widnes Vikings 28-6 yesterday to secure their first Challenge Cup final appearance since 1992.
“They’re in great form,” said Delaney. “We had a draw against them recently, but it’ll be good to have a Yorkshire derby – that will be great for the game.”
Rhinos are preparing for their fourth Cup final in five years following Saturday’s 24-16 victory against Warrington Wolves. Leeds have lost the last six Challenge Cup finals they have appeared in, but Delaney feels they will rise to the occasion this time.
“We said at the start of the year we wanted to win this and the (league leaders’) Shield,” he said. “This is the first step forward. We are in the final and now we have to get on with it.”
It will be Rhinos veteran Danny McGuire’s fourth final and he has yet to get his hands on the trophy.
“It’s never an easy run to get to Wembley but it’s a great week once you’re there and we want to enjoy it,” stressed the No 6. “We’re not worried about what’s happened in the past, that’s the biggest message I want to get across.”
Tigers coach Daryl Powell played for Leeds in the 1999 Cup final – the last time they won the trophy – and their 2000 defeat and coached them in the 2003 decider.
“We have had the Tour de France,” he said. “But I think to have an all-Yorkshire Challenge Cup final tops that! It is a great opportunity. I have been at Leeds as a player and a coach, so it’s special for me.
“They are a good side and they will take some beating, but I thought we were excellent against them the other week and we’ve got to feel confident whoever we’re playing against at the moment. We have got players who can do special things.”