HULL KR are under no illusions about the size of the task facing them at Wembley in 25 days’ time, according to their assistant-coach Willie Poching.
He accepts Rovers will be massive underdogs against Ladbrokes Challenge Cup holders Leeds Rhinos, despite last weekend’s impressive semi-final victory over Warrington Wolves.
“Leeds showed on Friday (in their semi-final win) how dangerous they are,” Poching observed. “At the start of the game they were outstanding and St Helens did a great job to stick with it and do as well as they did, because they would have blown most teams apart. They have got dangers across the park and they are a team that knows how to play in the big games.
“They are calm and composed and have got some leaders who are bowing out at the end of the season. They have got some reasons to play well, but we will find some reasons and some motivation ourselves.”
Poching joined Rhinos from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats ahead of the 2002 season. He scored 51 tries in 149 appearances before joining the coaching staff at the end of 2006. He moved to Warrington in 2011 and joined Rovers last autumn.
“Playing Leeds in the final will be special in that I have got some mates there,” he said. “I am always proud of them and I’ve got some mates who are finishing at the end of the season. But they have won one – they have had their turn! They have won more than they would ever have imagined, but it is a big experience for us and it’s how we handle it. We will approach it like we did the semi-final and prepare as best we can, but we don’t want to go there and be tourists and just have a look around. We will make the most of it, but the occasion is only as good as the outcome of the game.”
Rovers last reached Wembley in 1986, but Poching added: “We’ve got some people who’ve been in finals.
“Tyrone McCarthy’s won it twice, Shaun Lunt has been there a couple of times and Graeme Horne. Their accounts of their experiences will be important to the others.
“It’s important not to get overawed or to play the game too soon, but we will focus on that when we need to. It’s a little way off and we’ve got some tough games ahead of us.”
Rovers need to secure their top-flight status in the First Utility Qualifiers, which begin this weekend. Poching conceded: “We are in a position where we have got to look ahead to next year too. Leigh away on Saturday will be really, really tough. It will be a different type of football, but we have to have some of that steely resolve we showed at the weekend.”