CUP king John Kear is relishing another crack at rugby league’s most famous knock-out competition.
Kear will set foot on the road to Wembley when he takes his Wakefield Trinity Wildcats team to lowly Doncaster for a Carnegie Challenge Cup fourth-round tie today. (Sunday)
And the two-time cup champion reckons Wildcats have what it takes to make a major impact in a competition they haven’t won in almost half a century.
Wildcats are second from bottom in Engage Super League, after suffering a four-point deduction for entering administration, but are full of confidence following Easter wins over Castleford Tigers and Hull KR.
Kear – who guided Sheffield Eagles to a cup triumph in 1998 and who repeated the feat with Hull seven years later – said: “We have to accept we aren’t going to win Super League, though we may well give a good account of ourselves over the course of the season.
“But in the Challenge Cup, win four games and you are at Wembley. I certainly believe once you get past the first couple of rounds and you get to the quarter-finals it is like being in the Super League play-offs.
“It is a great opportunity to roll our sleeves up, get into the quarter-finals and see what happens. The players are a bit excited about this – I have sensed that in training.
“They are delighted with what they have done in the regular Super League season and so they should be, but this is all about the one-off and the glory.
“I am sensing they really fancy a dig at this competition and I certainly do.”
Kear also sees tomorrow as a chance for Wildcats to continue the momentum they have built up in their league campaign.
Wakefield have won five of their 13 games and would be tenth in the table but for the points penalty.
“We picked up four points out of six over the Easter period and I don’t think many pundits or experts would have predicted that,” Kear said.
“Quite a few were predicting we wouldn’t win a game all season. We have certainly put that bang to rights, we have got a bit of momentum with two wins out of three and this is a great opportunity to make it three wins out of four.
“The more you keep playing well and keep posting the correct results, the more confident you become in your ability.
“The players are learning that, we are enjoying things at the moment and we need to maintain that momentum.”
Kear admitted he would rather play Co-op Championship One side Doncaster than a Super League team, but said being favourites brings its own pressure.
“We’ve done our homework on them,” he said of tomorrow’s opponents. “I have had a good look at them and we aren’t going in blind. I have seen them play a couple of games and against Swinton they came back really well at the end and played some good rugby league.
“They have got some Hull KR and Hull dual-registered players and some from our reserves and we know they will be enthusiastic and hard working.
“They will front-up to us. We have got to be able to handle that and come through the other side.”
Kear will field a much-changed 17 tomorrow, with Matt Blaymire, Tyrone McCarthy, Liam Higgins and Julien Rinaldi dropping out from the team which beat Hull KR last week.
Higgins is cup tied, having played for previous club Sheffield Eagles in the third round, while Warrington Wolves are unwilling to allow McCarthy to feature, under the terms of his loan arrangement.
Michael Korkidas and Kevin Henderson, who were named in last week’s squad but did not make the matchday side, are both set to feature, with Dale Morton, Ben Gledhill, Josh Veivers and Matty Wildie recalled to the initial 19.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats (at Doncaster): from Veivers, George, Dean, Griffin, Murphy, Hyde, Lee, Amor, Davey, P Johnson, Morrison, Mariano, Howarth, King, Korkidas, Henderson, Gledhill, Morton, Wildie.
Referee: Matthew Thomason (Warrington).
Kick-off: Sunday, 3pm.