Wigan and Hull will put on a good show, says Radlinski
Kris Radlinski is boldly predicting a cracker of a final.
Their last meeting in 2013 was a wash-out, and as a spectacle fell well short of the last decider between Wigan and Hull FC in 1985 – regarded by many as the greatest Challenge Cup Final.
“It’s going to be a great game at Wembley, there’s no doubt about that,” said Warriors’ rugby director Radlinski.
“I think Hull are probably going in as favourites. But over the last couple of years – bar the last Challenge Cup final – the Wigan-Hull games have been real quality games.
“Hull are playing tremendously well, but I believe in our players and the spirit of our players, and I believe in the passion of our coach.
“And I believe that whatever happens on the day – we may win, we may lose – but we’ll put on a good show.”
Former full-back Radlinski won the Lance Todd Trophy in 2002 when he climbed off his sickbed and played in the Final at Murrayfield.
He made several try-saving tackles as Wigan beat St Helens to win the famous trophy for the first time since their glorious, eight-year run ended in 1995.
“There’s talk about the route to get there not being as difficult as it once was,” added Radlinski, nodding to the fact finalists Hull FC and Wigan have only played three rounds.
“But it still gets the juices flowing. The draw, when it’s on a Tuesday night, I’m still nervous sat next to the radio listening to who we get. It still means a lot to me and a lot to the people of Wigan.”
This is not the first time this summer a fixture between Wigan and Hull FC has captured the imagination of rugby league fans.
Last month, the Warriors announced they were staging their home match against the Black and Whites next February in Sydney.
The ground-breaking move – it is the first Super League game to be taken outside of Europe – has polarised opinion.
Some are excited about the bold venture but, at the other end of the spectrum, others have been left frustrated at the loss of a home game.
Rugby director Kris Radlinski has worked feverishly on the project and will be back in Australia next month to continue laying the groundwork for the two-game tour, which also takes in a big-stage friendly with Michael Maguire’s Souths.
Radkinski said: “You’re not going to make everyone happy along the way, I understand that.
“I just think people raised their eyebrows at the cross-code games with Bath, and the Millwaukee (USA, 1989) game against Warrington, yet we’re still talking about them two or three decades later.
“Will we suffer when we get back? They might be a little bit fatigued for a few weeks.
“We’ll obviously have to squeeze in another game down the line.
“But in the bigger picture, is it the right thing for the club? Is it the right thing for Super League? Absolutely, 100 percent.
“I speak to the players, I speak to the coaches, and they want to be involved in games like this.
“The owner wants to grow his brand and be involved in games like this.
“Do I want it to be a one off? No. Do I want it to grow and grow? Absolutely, yes. But it’s a huge task. The look and feel of the game there has to be like a Super League game – all the obligations, from flags on the field to media backdrops to post protectors – have to be met. It’s a huge project.
“So I’d love to say that it’s the start of something, but let’s see how this one goes.
“There’s a lot of work going on, as a club we’ve got a responsibility to give the people who are going memories that’ll last forever.”
Wigan last week announced a partnership with npower and other sponsorship deals are on the horizon – an indication of the commercial reasons behind the venture.
For Australian fans interested in the fixture at WIN Stadium, tomorrow’s Wembley decider is not a bad venue for a prelude fixture to whet the appetite.