Castleford Tigers and Featherstone Rovers gearing up for Wembley
Castleford Tigers and Featherstone Rovers head to Wembley this weekend, with both clubs aiming to win under the famous arch for the first time.
Neither club has won at Wembley since it reopened in 2007 after years of redevelopment. Featherstone will play at the stadium for the first time since 1983 while the Tigers have ended a seven-year wait to return to Wembley.
Their last appearance was in the 2014 Challenge Cup final against Leeds Rhinos while their last win at Wembley came in the 1986 Challenge Cup final.
There will be 45,000 fans in attendance as Featherstone and York City Knights kick off the action at midday with the 1895 Cup final before the Tigers face St Helens in a bid to win their first Challenge Cup in 35 years.
“Wembley is embedded in the sporting psyche and history of the club,” said Tigers head coach Daryl Powell.
“You look at last Sunday night and the England game, Wembley means something completely different to people.
“It’s such a special time for fans, walking down Wembley, it’s a feeling like nothing else. It’s just unbelievable as a sporting showpiece.”
Powell is hoping that half-back Jake Trueman will be fit enough to feature for the Tigers, adding: “He had a run on Monday and looked better.
“We’ll see how he goes through the week. At the moment, he’s 70-30 (to play) I would say.”
Powell also reported zero positive Covid-19 cases within his squad on Monday afternoon.
Rovers head coach James Webster will have some selection issues of his own to deal with after having 12 players missing for last week’s Championship victory at Widnes Vikings.
At least four players - Jack Bussey, Thomas Minns, Dale Ferguson and Brad Day - are ruled out through long-term injury while Frankie Halton is unavailable as he completes the Covid-19 seven-day graduated return to play protocol.
“I think we had 12 people unavailable last weekend, which when I went through them actually made a pretty decent Championship team,” said coach Webster.
“We are hoping some will be back, but until we get into the ground and have a look at some people, we won’t know for sure.”
Featherstone are strong favourites to lift the 1895 Cup after winning all 12 of their Championship games this year while York have won just four of 13 league matches.
“We have seemed to click a little bit the last month,” said Webster.
“We were a little bit scratchy at the start of the campaign but our form with the ball has been really good the last five or so weeks.
“We are a pretty happy squad at the moment but we understand we have got a lot of big fixtures coming up.”