Dom desperate to have central role in Wembley party
Dom Manfredi stood in the Wembley dressing room as those around him went wild.
Dressed in his smart club suit, he watched his friends and team-mates sing, drink and congratulate each other – and vowed to experience winning the Challenge Cup himself.
Since then, the winger has become a regular in the Warriors side but there has been no trip to London’s iconic ground.
Wigan, double-winners in 2013, have twice been knocked out early of the famous competition with which they are synonymous.
A defeat against Castleford was followed by a shock loss to Hull KR last year.
As they prepare to embark on this year’s Cup journey with a trip to Dewsbury Rams on Sunday, Manfredi is determined not to let another chance slip through his grasp. He said: “This competition is massive for us all.
“We’ve really put an emphasis on doing well in this competition, because we’ve not done that well in the last couple of years, and we all really want to get to Wembley.
“I was there in 2013 as a part of the squad and to see the players win that, I thought: ‘I need to do that one day’.”
Since Super League introduced the Super 8s format, the route to the final for the better sides has shortened.
Wigan only need to win three games to book a place at Wembley, and they are expected to have little trouble overcoming Championship opposition this Sunday.
The last time they travelled to Dewsbury two years ago, Joe Burgess scored four tries as they returned with a comprehensive 58-6 win.
Manfredi, though, points to Oldham’s shock win against Hull KR in the last round – and Leigh’s success against top-flight sides last year – as proof that giant-killings are still possible in the competition.
Players will he shown video clips of their opposition, just like any other match.
“We can’t approach it any different from any other game,” he said. “Hull KR got turned over by Oldham, so anything can happen if you don’t show up.
“They have nothing to lose, they’ll go out and do the best they can, all the pressure is on us, totally.
“We’ve got to perform and get that win.
“The last two times we’ve been knocked out, we’ve maybe been guilty of taking (the opposition) lightly.
“This year will be different, we’ve learned from that.”
Manfredi returns to the side this week after sitting out a month with a foot injury.
He suffered the problem on Good Friday and battled on for two more matches – even scoring a hat-trick against Warrington – before being sidelined.
“I snapped a ligament in my foot in the Saints game,” said the 22-year-old.
“I needed a few weeks to get it right.
“I struggled on for a couple of games but it got to a point where I couldn’t carry on.
“It feels all right now.”