Edwards: Why I think Wigan will win
Shaun Edwards is banking on Wigan's big-game experience to steer them to an historic 20th Challenge Cup Final victory.
The rugby league legend – who won the famous trophy a record nine times as a player – will be at Wembley to watch his hometown club.
He believes his former team-mate Shaun Wane has his troops peaking at the right time and, while he expects Hull FC to provide fierce opposition, he outlined his reasons he is tipping a Cherry and White win.
Edwards said: “Wigan have got a lot of experience in big games and hopefully that will get them through.
“There’s been a bit of a turnover since they were last at Wembley in 2013 but they are used to playing in the big games, and they have a coach who knows what it’s about.
“I’m not saying Lee Radford has not been in the big games, because he obviously has – they won it last year – but Shaun has a very good record in these big games.” Although Wane has a clutch of players making their debut at Wembley, most have experienced either Grand Final or World Club Challenge success within the last 10 months.
Winger Tom Davies – presuming he gets the nod – is the only member of the squad yet to feature in a trophy-decider.
“Hull were outstanding in the semi-final (against Leeds), and they had a great win at St Helens a couple weeks ago,” said Edwards. “It’s a take-you-pick type of game, no one is standing out as massive favourite, but I’m going with the team with the experience and I’m hoping they’re celebrating at the end.”
Edwards scored a try in the classic 1985 victory against Hull FC and played in all eight finals during their all-conquering run from 1988.
He also lost two finals, in ‘84 and with London Broncos 15 years later.
The Wales RU assistant coach has been impressed with the way Wigan have picked up their form, with just two losses in their last 10 matches.
“I think it’s the team work more than any individual, that’s what I really like about this Wigan team,” added Edwards.
“They all work for each other, and they defend for each other, and I think they’re peaking at the right time. They’ve won their last two games quite convincingly, their defence has been pretty strong for most of the year and they seem to be getting some fluency in their attack.”