Hansen cleared for Challenge Cup Final

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HARRISON Hansen was “relieved” last night after he was cleared to play at Wembley.

His place in Warriors’ Carnegie Challenge Cup final squad had been thrown into doubt after he was charged with a dangerous tackle on Bradford captain Andy Lynch during his side’s 60-12 Super League win over the Bulls last Friday.

But the RFL’s disciplinary committee found him not guilty of the grade B charge – clearing him to face Leeds in the cup final this Saturday.

Coach Michael Maguire accompanied the second-rower to Red Hall last night and said: “’H’ is extremely relieved, as you can imagine.

“As confident as we were that he would be found not guilty, there’s always the risk that the decision may go against you.

“But we got a fair hearing and thankfully he’s okay to play, and he can now concentrate on enjoying the week and preparing for the final.”

A suspension would have been cruel on Hansen, who has yet to play in a Challenge Cup final during eight seasons with Wigan – he was an unused travelling reserve for the 2004 decider at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

Maguire added: “He’s a key member of the side and given the time he’s been here, he’s obviously looking forward to Saturday, like we all are.”

Maguire reported that no members of his squad picked up any fresh injuries in training yesterday.

A 19-man squad will be named tomorrow, when Wigan will leave the front of the DW Stadium at 12.30pm and head for the capital.

The Super League champions go into the match on the back of an 11-game winning streak.

And Australian back-rower Ryan Hoffman says their preparations had gone well as they aim to secure the Warriors their first cup final triumph in nine years.

“Everyone’s relaxed and really enjoying the week,” said Hoffman.

“In a sense, you treat it like any other game, but at the same time it’s a Challenge Cup final and everyone knows what’s at stake.”

Winger Pat Richards added: “We wanted to go into the final in some good form and we’re doing that.

“I’ve been here for six years and this is my first cup final – I’m looking forward to it.”

Meanwhile, Warrington back rower David Solomona will miss his club’s Super League showdown with Wigan on Sunday week, after being handed a one-match ban for a dangerous tackle during the Wolves’ 25-12 win over Catalan Dragons last Saturday.

SPECULATION is mounting that ex-Wigan scrum-half Adrian Lam, who won the Challenge Cup with Wigan in 2002 and played in the final loss to St Helens two years later, is to succeed Terry Matterson as Castleford coach.

Lam has cut his coaching teeth in the NRL with roles at Cronulla, Sydney Roosters and current club, St George-Illawarra.

LEEDS coach Brian McDermott expects Carl Ablett to be fit to face Wigan, but rates centre Kallum Watkins’ chances as “50-50” after ankle and knee injuries respectively.