Orrell St James' captain honoured to be leading the team into this weekend's televised Challenge Cup tie

Orrell St James’ captain Dave Kennedy says he is honoured to be leading the team in such a big game ahead of the Challenge Cup first-round tie against Army Rugby League.

Friday, 14th January 2022, 2:00 pm
Orrell St James play in the Challenge Cup this weekend (credit: Stuart Prescott)

The 33-year-old admits there is a good feeling around the club ahead of the big game.

To add even more excitement, the match is being streamed live on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport, which has left Kennedy full of excitement.

He said: “It doesn’t come round often does it. We are lads who are playing for the love of the game, so to get on the telly in the Challenge Cup is quality. I hope we can put a decent performance in and get the win.

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“I’ve been absolutely buzzing all week. Usually, I don’t get nervous for a game, but it’s kicking in already because I know how much it means to everyone. We want to put on a good show for all those people who have put time into us.

“If was a little less experienced then I’d think: ‘I have to do something crazy here,' but now I know you’ve got to play your position and do your job. If we all play our own game then we will be absolutely fine.

“It was massive honour when I became captain, so personally I want to do something special, not just for me, but for the club and the lads.

“You just don’t know what’s going to happen and so hopefully I can lead us to a victory.”

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Kennedy says the day will be a celebration of the club and its surrounding family.

“It’s a good place to be, and that’s not happened by accident,” he said.

“There’s been a massive effort to create something, where people don’t want to play semi-professional and they’d come down to the club.

“It’s good to be able showcase our new facilities be cause there’s people who have worked hard over the last 30 years to get what we’ve got now. They can now see the fruits of their labour on the telly.

“There’s also people who have passed away over the years, who have tried their best to get us a club house and the pitches, so it is a nod to everyone who has put their blood, sweat and tears into it.

“With Covid and stuff, there’s not been much to celebrate for a few years. Wigan’s not done too well in the last few years either, so everyone has been a bit disenchanted with Super League.

“Locally when you go in the pubs around Orrell, everyone is always asking about us, so I think we will get a properly decent crowd.

“The majority of people coming will be from the area, as well as some former players, so it’ll be a good day.”

Kennedy says the club enjoys playing in a certain way, even if the conditions at this time of year doesn’t suit their style.

“It’s gutting that the early rounds are in the winter, because we like the fast-track and chuck the ball around a lot,” he added.

“It’s definitely an attractive brand of rugby, so having it on cameras is what it’s all about.

“We don’t play the conventional way. Copying what you see on TV only works if you’re a super athlete, but when the lads are working 8-5 every day, we want to make sure we enjoy it.”

Kennedy originally got involved with the club after going to a training session with a school friend.

Since then, St James’ has cemented a place in his heart, and has helped him fall in love with the sport.

“I originally played at the club up until the age of 18, before signing a semi-pro contract elsewhere,” he said.

“I didn’t make it and I sort of fell out of love with the game. I’d started doing a bit of touch rugby when Sean (McHugh) got in touch and ask me to go back down.

“I hadn’t played for three or four years, but I’ve loved it. Semi-pro clubs have asked me to join them, but I’d rather enjoy myself and see what Orrell can do over the next few years. Our reward here is having a family vibe with everyone.

“I know other lads at other clubs who have moved teams, and I find that dead strange. I’d feel a bit weird playing for anyone else. It’s that type of club where once you’re in it, it’s difficult to go anywhere else.”

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