Finch heartache turns to joy

Brett Finch, Challenge Cup Final 2011
Brett Finch, Challenge Cup Final 2011

BRETT Finch admits Wigan’s Challenge Cup triumph has finally made up for his Grand Final heartache Down Under.

The Australian twice lost in the NRL deciders with Sydney Roosters and when he finally won the Premiership with Melbourne in 2009, the title was stripped from the victors months later because of a salary cap scandal.

After tasting Wembley success with the Warriors last Saturday, following their 28-18 win over Leeds, Finch said it was nice to land some silverware that is his for keeps.

He said: ““To win Grand Finals in Australia is great and this is just as important – especially at Wembley with all the tradition.

“Hopefully I’ll get to keep it this time. That would be nice!

“I’ve still got the memories of what we did at Melbourne, but obviously the title was taken away, so I hope they don’t take this one away from me. That would be disappointing.

“I’m not sure I have many more years in me to keep coming back!”

Finch was one of three ex-Storm players in the Wigan side, with Ryan Hoffman and Jeff Lima.

as delighted to be a part of the team that landed Wigan’s first Cup since 2002.

“It’s a great relief, because it’s been a really tough campaign for us,” he said. “I don’t know the route to Wembley that previous winners have taken, but we’ve had some real tough games, almost all of final intensity, and to finally win it is a great achievement.

“We had a lot of pressure on ourselves, being red-hot favourites, and we always knew it wasn’t going to be that easy – especially given the two games between the two sides this season.

“It’s great to get this one under our belts, as much for the Wigan people as anyone else.

“I’m only new here, but you can feel the excitement around the town, and I know the folks like to come down to Wembley and enjoy the occasion.

“It’s been building since we beat Warrington in the quarter-final, and I hope everyone had a good time.”

Finch played a vital role in the victory, keeping his side composed when Leeds battled back from 16-0 down.

And as he brought up the rear during the victory climb up the famous Wembley steps, the realisation of their feat hit home.

“I was walking up the steps with Madge at the end, we were the last two, and you just think about the great players who have done that before you,” he continued.

“One of the last teams was Barcelona, and the likes of Lionel Messi, and that shows you the calibre of the place.

“You also think about the great players who will make that walk in years to come, and to say that we’ve now done it is incredibly rewarding.

“I was glad my parents were able to be here to share it with me.

“They obviously watched the Challenge Cup growing up, and my dad obviously played footy in Sydney during his time, so I know he was very excited.

“I was last one up, talking to Madge (Michael Maguire), and I just ended up with the trophy.

“The funny thing was, we were still walking up the stairs when I heard a big roar, and all of a sudden there’s Lockers with the cup in the air.

“So I missed that, talking to Madge, but it was great to get up there and see Ellery Hanley. Shaking his hand was special.”

Hoffman and Maguire head back to the NRL later this year, joining Melbourne and Souths respectively, and Finch added: “It’s great for Hoffy and Madge to go out like this.

“Hoffy is an absolute footy tragic, and he knows the importance of this game.

“He’s done most things in his career, so to be able to tick this box is fantastic.

“For Madge, I know he had a lot of pressure from the club, because the Challenge Cup is so important to Wigan.

“But I’m delighted to have done it for him. He works you very hard, but these are the rewards you get from all that hard work.”