Leeds Rhinos can upset St Helens in Betfred Challenge Cup says Sean Long
Five-time winner Sean Long reckons Leeds Rhinos can inflict more disappointment on his former club St Helens in the Betfred Challenge Cup.
Rhinos will begin the defence of the trophy they won last year in a third round tie away to the reigning Super League champions on the weekend of April 8-11.
Man of the match in three of his Cup final victories with Saints, Long - now an assistant-coach at Leeds - knows how much the competition means to his old side, who have not won it since 2008.
“They’ve had a lot of success in the past so they will be gunning for this game, but it is a big challenge for us and hopefully we’ll be up to the task,” he said.
“They looked pretty strong in the first [Super League] round, some of their new signings are pretty good and they have got some quality players.
“Lachlan Coote will probably be back and we’ll have to keep an eye on Jonny Lomax.
“They have got a good pack as well, strength across the board, so they are a good team, but I think if we keep improving we will definitely give them a good crack.”
Long stressed: “It is up to us to put in a good performance.
“In the Cup form goes out of the window, you have just got to rise to the occasion and play your best footy on the day.
“It is our trophy so they have got to take it off us and we want to keep hold of it.”
Meanwhile, Long has joined France's coaching staff ahead for this year’s World Cup.
He will combine his new role with his Leeds job, said: "I am excited, the French squad is very good quality and I can’t wait.”
France coach Laurent Frayssinous said: "I am very happy Sean Long has agreed to become my assistant-coach in charge of attack for the World Cup.
"He was one of the best players of his generation and has a reputation for being innovative and very rigorous in the attacking game.
"He was also assistant-coach of the Samoa team during the last two World Cups and his knowledge of the Samoa group as well as that of the English will be very useful to us.
"Sean is a competitor, we share the same human values and I know he will bring to the group his always positive state of mind in addition to his skills.
"I want to thank the Leeds Rhinos club, [coach] Rich Agar and [director of rugby] Kevin Sinfield for allowing us to benefit from Sean's skills for the World Cup."
Agar was France coach from 2013 to 2015, including the last World Cup in England.
Frayssinous - whose side are in the same group as England and Samoa - has also added ex-France international Maxime Gresque to his backroom team, which includes Sydney Roosters' former Catalans Dragons head coach Trent Robinson as director of rugby.
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