WORDS OF wisdom from the Challenge Cup king could help inspire Wakefield Trinity into a second successive semi-final.
Two-time Cup-winning coach John Kear is the not-so-secret weapon in Trinity’s armoury for tonight’s quarter-final at Salford Red Devils.
Kear, who rejoined Trinity’s staff in the off-season as head of rugby, was in charge of Sheffield Eagles when they stunned Wigan Warriors at Wembley 19 years ago and masterminded Hull’s victory over Leeds Rhinos at Cardiff in 2005.
He has also been on the Challenge Cup-winning backroom staff at Castleford Tigers and Wigan and guided Trinity into their first semi-final for 29 years in 2008.
Nobody in the game has a closer association with the competition, and Trinity captain Danny Kirmond is hoping some of Kear’s magic will rub off tonight.
“There’s a bit of a buzz around the boys,” said Kirmond, who is hoping to return to the side after a back injury.
“It is always exciting when it comes to the Cup. It is a bit of a break from the league and John’s been very good with the Challenge Cup.
“He has got a great history in it and it means a lot to him.
“He has had a bit of a chat with the boys this week and everyone’s really bought into that, but, to be honest, it doesn’t take much getting up for the Challenge Cup.
“Everyone’s excited by it, the Cup is special for all rugby players and fans.
“It is what you dream about as a kid and what most of us play the game for.
“It is a special competition and it’s exciting to be playing in a quarter-final.”
Salford, second in Betfred Super League, will be favourites for tonight’s tie, but Kirmond said: “We are written off every year, so that doesn’t matter to us.
“We’ve played everyone already this year and no one’s really blown us away completely – we don’t really look at anyone and think ‘they’re a better team than us, they’re going to beat us if we play them’.
“We are a more consistent team this year and we can challenge anyone on our day. We are confident.
“It’s an 80-minute game and there’s no second chances so you put it all on the line.
“Us and Salford are doing all right in the league so I am sure it’ll be a really good game.”
Trinity won 34-24 at Salford in Super League less than two weeks ago and also beat tonight’s opponents 24-22 at Beaumont Legal Stadium, Belle Vue, in March.
“That won’t have any bearing on us,” Kirmond stressed of the recent meeting.
“It might affect them a bit more than us. They’ll probably be looking for a little bit of revenge.
“They’ll probably think we’ve had a couple of close victories against them this year so I think it’ll mean a lot to them, but it’s a Cup game and it means everything to us anyway.
“We will be throwing it all on the line.
“It is going to be a tough game regardless, it is a quarter-final so you know you’ve got to be on your best game and be ready for it.
Salford Red Devils: from O’Brien, Bibby, Welham, Sa’u, Evalds, Lui, Dobson, Tasi, Brining, Hasson, Murdoch-Masila, Hauraki, Griffin, Kopczak, Krasniqi, Carney, Lannon, Tomkins, Flanagan.
Wakefield Trinity: from Allgood, Annakin, Arundel, Ashurst, Caton-Brown, Crowther, England, Finn, Grix, Hadley, Hirst, Huby, Jones-Bishop, Kirmond, Lyne, Sio, Tupou, Williams, Wood.
Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.