Adam Cuthbertson: Catalans' historic cup victory is a landmark moment for the game

I WAS jealous of both teams at Wembley last week, but over the moon to see Catalans win the Challenge Cup.

Friday, 31st August 2018, 6:00 am
Michael McIlorum lifts the Challenge Cup at Wembley.

It is a great achievement off the back of where they were last season, in the Qualifiers and the million pound game and fighting for their lives and also from where they were at the start of this year.

When they were at the bottom of the table and struggling for a win there was plenty of talk about whether the owner would keep backing the club or even if they had a future, but to turn it around like they have shows what a bit of form can do on the pitch and for the club and the area in general.

I was pleased for them and it’s good that they’ve not done it through playing lesser teams. They’ve played some big, strong Super League clubs and come out on top and they were worthy winners.

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Danny McGuire.

They beat Huddersfield, who are probably the form team at the moment, in the quarter-finals, the league leaders St Helens in the semis and then a strong Warrington team at Wembley so the Cup is theirs on merit.

They have made history and that’s something nobody can take away. It’s also good for clubs who aren’t up at the top of the table and ones like ourselves who are doing it tough at the moment.

It shows things can turn around. We were on a similar journey in 2016 and 2017 so I can relate to what they have been through.

They had a change of coach midway through last season and it doesn’t click straight away, it takes time for things to be put in place and changes made to turn things around and be successful.

It was also good to see an underdog win the Cup this year and a new name on the trophy. Catalans aren’t a small club, but they had never won a major final before and it was a new experience for most of their team.

I thought the way they handled the game and the occasion was very impressive and it was good to see them do it with nine Frenchmen in the team.

If we are going to get anywhere as a sport we have to expand our horizons and Catalans winning will help do that. They didn’t just do it on the back of imports from England and the NRL; some of their best players on the day were home grown.

France could be a real growth area for rugby league because there is so much potential there.

We played Toulouse three weeks ago and they are a good team. They have got some quality players and they play a good brand of footy.

They will have looked at what Catalans have done and be thinking ‘we can do the same’.

So will clubs like Toronto. They are still a new operation, but they’ve seen what can be achieved if they get things right on and off the field.

Wembley weekend gave us chance to have a bit of a breather and a few days off.

I know people will say you have to keep going to get out of the sort of tricky situation we are in, but sometimes it is about taking a step back and freshening up.

We hadn’t had any down time this year before last weekend so it was beneficial for us and we’ve come back feeling good and really ripped in at training this week.

We have got a huge couple of games coming up starting with Hull KR at Headingley tomorrow. That is massive for us and we are under no illusions about how tough it is going to be.

In review it has been hard watching Danny McGuire playing for the Robins, but he is definitely someone we will have to keep an eye on this weekend because he has been in great form for them.

He is leading from the front and we all know what he can do with the ball in hand.

They have got a strong squad across the park and he leads them really well.

It will be good for him to play at Headingley. Everyone at our club loves him and I know he’s a Leeds boy at heart.

It won’t be easy for him. I’ve done it a few times in the NRL, especially when I left Manly.

It was tough going back home to play for another team and, to be honest, I didn’t get the best of receptions, but I am sure Magsy will be well received by the Leeds fans.

He deserves a fantastic welcome home, but we’ll be doing everything we can to make sure he doesn’t leave with the points.