We take a look at what is being said ahead of Friday’s two Challenge Cup matches, which see Hull Kingston Rovers up against Castleford Tigers and ambitious Championship side York City Knights playing Wigan Warriors…
Hull Kingston Rovers vs Castleford Tigers (6pm)
Michael Shenton was a big influence on Greg Minikin when the latter was coming through at Castleford. On Friday though, the two will be up against each other in the Challenge Cup.
Hull KR centre Minikin is set to line up opposite the Tigers captain in the third-round tie at Hull College Craven Park, a match that sees Rovers looking for their first win of the 2021 season.
The 26-year-old is grateful to Shenton for the help and advice he gave him, but there will be no love lost when the two teams go head to head for a place in the quarter-finals.
“Shenny helped me with quite a lot of stuff when I was coming through,” Minikin said. “That left edge is their main edge, they do a lot of attacking down there so we’re going to have to be really good.
“I’ve fond memories of my time there. Cas gave me the opportunity to play Super League and I’ll always be grateful for that.”
Luis Johnson, Ethan Ryan and Jimmy Keinhorst all come into head coach Tony Smith’s squad for the match, while Castleford welcome back Gareth O’Brien from injury.
The Tigers head to East Hull on the back of head coach Daryl Powell’s move to Warrington Wolves for 2022 being confirmed following the news he would leave the club at the end of the year.
Powell is determined to end his spell at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle on a high and the Challenge Cup offers a great opportunity to do just that.
“I wanted to get the news out there to stop the constant rumours and I want to focus on this season, doing something special with Castleford Tigers and winning something,” Powell said.
“I’ve been here for a long time and I absolutely love the club and everything that it stands for. I want to go out in a special way by giving as much as I can to the Tigers.”
Hull Kingston Rovers: Adam Quinlan, Ben Crooks, Greg Minikin, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Jordan Abdull, Ryan Hall, Albert Vete, Matt Parcell, Kane Linnett, Dean Hadley, Jez Litten, George Lawler, George King, Will Dagger, Mikey Lewis, Ethan Ryan, Rowan Milnes, Luis Johnson, Muizz Mustapha, Jimmy Keinhorst.
Castleford Tigers: Niall Evalds, Derrell Olpherts, Peter Mata’utia, Michael Shenton, Jake Trueman, Danny Richardson, Liam Watts, Paul McShane, Grant Millington, Oliver Holmes, Cheyse Blair, Adam Milner, Nathan Massey, George Griffin, Tyla Hepi, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Daniel Smith, Greg Eden, Jordan Turner, Lewis Bienek, Gareth O’Brien.
York City Knights vs Wigan Warriors (7.45pm)
The last Challenge Cup meeting between York and Wigan came in the semi-finals in 1984, when the Cherry and Whites avoided an upset against the Second Division side with a 14-8 victory in front of over 17,000 fans at Elland Road in Leeds.
Fast forward 27 years and York have ambitions of one day playing at the same level as clubs like Wigan on a regular basis, having unsuccessfully applied to join Super League for 2021 as Toronto Wolfpack’s replacement.
City Knights head coach James Ford, whose side reached Round 3 with wins over Sheffield Eagles and London Broncos, wants the team to show their potential when they welcome the 19-time winners to the LNER Community Stadium.
“We applied for Super League because we wanted to play games against teams like Wigan week in and week out, but we are aware that brings a challenge and the ups and downs when you play clubs of that ability,” Ford said.
“Wigan are famous club, [with] famous players and I grew up watching Adrian Lam play for Wigan, so we’re really excited by it and looking forward to the challenge.”
Ford will be able to call on the Super League experience of Adam Cuthbertson, Ryan Atkins and Ben Jones-Bishop for this match, while opposite number Lam has named an unchanged squad from the team which Wakefield Trinity 24-6 in the league last week.
Lam still looks back fondly on his part in Wigan’s Challenge Cup success as a player in 2002 and is determined to lift the trophy at Wembley this year after being eliminated in the semi-finals in 2020.
“Probably one of my best memories of my life within rugby league,” Lam said when asked what the Challenge Cup means to him.
“We bowed out last year playing really poorly and everyone was disappointed, so there’s a bit of a why for us this year.”
York City Knights: Matty Marsh, Liam Salter, Ryan Atkins, Kieran Dixon, Brendan O’Hagan, Ronan Dixon, Will Jubb, Sam Scott, Adam Cuthbertson, Marcus Stock, James Green, Tim Spears, Joe Porter, Perry Whiteley, Ben Jones-Bishop, Dan Barcoe, AJ Towse, Myles Harrison, Toby Warren, Danny Washbrook, Tyme Dow-Nikau.
Wigan Warriors: Zak Hardaker, Thomas Leuluai, Brad Singleton, Sam Powell, Joe Bullock, Willie Isa, Liam Farrell, John Bateman, Oliver Partington, Morgan Smithies, Tony Clubb, Liam Byrne, Harry Smith, Ethan Havard, Jake Bibby, Mitch Clark, Joe Shorrocks, Sam Halsall, James McDonnell, Umyla Hanley, Jackson Hastings.
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