AFTER SOME near-misses in the past, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats front-rower Nick Scruton admits time is running out for him to taste Challenge Cup glory.
Scruton will be in Wildcats’ engine room today when they face Warrington Wolves at Leigh Sports Village with a place at Wembley up for grabs.
The former Leeds Rhinos and Bradford Bulls man has a Grand Final winner’s ring in his trophy cabinet, but has never played in a Challenge Cup decider.
“This will be my third semi-final,” Scruton said. “I’ve played in two for Leeds and a few quarter-finals with Bradford, but never got further than that.
“It would be really nice to do it this year. I have come close a few times so it would be good to finally get over the line.
“I haven’t got many years left now, I am 31 so I know I am coming to the twilight of my career and it would be really nice to get there before I hang my boots up.”
Scruton regards playing in a semi-final with Wakefield as an indication of how far the club have come since the dark days of last year, when they were bottom of First Utility Super League and staved off relegation in the million pound match.
“That had a big-game feeling, but it is a different feeling to be in a semi-final,” he said.
“We are in with a decent shout. Obviously we are going to be massive underdogs, but in a semi-final you just never know.
“It’s one of those games where if we get the bounce of the ball, anything can happen.”
Injuries have robbed Wildcats of some key men, but Scruton insisted he has full confidence in the players coming in.
He said: “That’s what we said at the start of the year, that we have got a squad big enough to cope with injuries.
“If we have injuries people can cover different positions. We are really unlucky at this time of the season, with such a big game coming up.
“We are down on numbers, but we won’t moan or complain about it, we’ll just get on with it and give it our best shot.”
Wildcats were beaten 46-20 by Castleford Tigers last weekend, but Scruton is reasonably happy with their recent form.
“We had a good win at Catalans two weeks ago,” he said.
“I think for 50 minutes of the game against Cas we were probably the better side.
“We went in at half-time in front, but we ended up with one sub – and that was a front-rower.
“Big Dave Fifita was rolling on and off and we had front-rowers playing in the centres and things like that.
“While we had a full bench we were probably the better side, but then it caught up with us and they ran away with it.
“It isn’t ideal before a semi-final, but we have put that to bed. We are concentrating on this week. We’ve had a big week’s preparation and we’ll take that into the game with us.”
Scruton reckons Wildcats won’t be fazed by the unique atmosphere today.
“There’s not that much big-game experience in our team, but I think that might work in our favour,” he said.
“Nobody has experienced this and we don’t know what to expect so we’re just taking the week as it comes and just enjoying it.
“We have got a pretty laidback team and we’re going to take it all in our stride and see where it takes us.”