Sam Powell has extra reasons to be excited about the Challenge Cup – but dismissed the idea it offers Wigan their best chance of glory this season.
The hooker is set to face Warrington in tomorrow’s crunch round tie tie at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Victory would move then to within 160 minutes of a Wembley return.
And given their rocky start to the Super League campaign – they are 8th in the table –some may think the Cup gives them the best shot at silverware. Powell disagrees.
“People get excited for the Challenge Cup, it’s the first shot at silverware with our new coach,” said Powell.
“Our best chance? No, no. The league is there for us to creep into the top-five and we’ll have a good crack at getting to the Grand Final, don’t worry about that.”
Powell, a World Club Challenge and Grand Final winner, has his own motivations for wanting to win the famous old trophy.
He was 18th man when the Warriors last won at Wembley, in 2013, and when his chance on the big stage arrived, Wigan lost 18-14 to Hull FC.
“It’s probably the most disappointing parts of my career, to be honest,” he said. “In 2013, I warmed up with the lads.
“I had a shot of getting in the side and I wasn’t sure which way he’d go – it was between me and Logan (Tomkins) for the bench spot and he went with him.
“It was a strange one. I was buzzing for the lads, gutted to miss out, but I wanted to learn from the experience. We had our chance in 2017 and we should have won it.
“I look back and for me, that’s the one that got away. But we didn’t turn up and play our game.”
Powell admits Wigan may need to produce a season-best display to overcome the Wolves tomorrow.
Steve Price’s outfit triumphed 25-12 in a Super League meeting earlier this season and are second in the table, having won 11 of their 14 matches.
“We’ve got a tough draw but you’ve got to play the best at some point,” said Powell.
“We’ve gone three from three in the league and if we can beat them, what a way to kick on the season.
“But they’re flying, they’ve got Blake Austin – who has taken the competition by storm – as well as a lot of players who are consistently very good, like Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Jack Hughes...
“We may need to play our best game to beat them. But on our day we feel we can beat them.”
Joe Burgess, who has scored 10 tries in seven appearances this season, returns alongside prop Tony Clubb, whose season so far has been disrupted by injuries.
If there is one downside to tomorrow’s match, for Powell and a clutch of his team-mates, it is they will miss the final day of the Premier League season.
Wigan’s game kicks-off at 2.15pm, while the football games starting 45 minutes later – and Man City-fan Powell is hoping his side can secure the title.
“We’ve got quite a few Liverpool fans here, so there’s been quite a bit of banter,” said Powell.