SUPER LEAGUE’S first Grand Final try scorer has a foot in both camps ahead of this evening’s game.
Richie Blackmore touched down to score Leeds Rhinos’ only points when they were beaten 10-4 by Wigan Warriors at Old Trafford in 1998.
Four years earlier he was part of Castleford Tigers’ most recent major success, playing in their 33-2 Regal Trophy final conquering of Wigan.
The Kiwi – who played alongside current Tigers coach Daryl Powell 19 years ago – recalled: “You go out and play a game of footy and I didn’t pay much attention to being the first try scorer.
“It is wonderful to be remembered for things like that, but we didn’t win – Wigan were deserved winners.”
Blackmore went on to play in Leeds’ 1999 Challenge Cup final win over London Broncos before leaving the club at the end of the following season.
He coached Rhinos’ player of the year Joel Moon during his time with New Zealand Warriors’ reserves.
The former Test centre also has fond memories of Castleford’s Regal Trophy triumph.
“Wigan were so dominant in that era,” he recalled. “For any team to get a win in a major showpiece against them, you knew you had done extremely well.
“The boys were on fire that day and we won comfortably.”
Having experienced that, Blackmore knows how much a victory today would mean to the town.
“I would love to be there now to experience the joy on the local community’s faces,” he said.
“Daryl Powell has done a fantastic job since taking over from Ian Millward. It was a team that wasn’t in the best shape and he managed to turn them around very quickly.
“They have justifiably become minor premiers and that’s a first for Castleford. Daryl will be forever loved in that town, there’s no doubt about it.”
Blackmore will be tuning into the Grand Final from his home in New Zealand, where he works for a property company.
He has remained in contact with former Castleford and Leeds teammate Andy Hay who is now employed by the Auckland Rugby League.