We take a look at what is being said ahead of Saturday’s four Challenge Cup third-round ties, including holders Leeds Rhinos getting their defence underway against Super League champions St Helens…
Salford Red Devils vs Widnes Vikings (12.30pm)
If anyone knows what to expect from Championship opponents, it is Salford head coach Richard Marshall, who was in charge of Halifax between 2015 and 2019.
Last year’s Challenge Cup runners-up welcome Widnes Vikings to the AJ Bell Stadium for Saturday’s last-16 clash and are looking for their first win of the season after suffering defeats in their opening two Super League matches.
Marshall, who is without suspended former Widnes half-back Kevin Brown and injured duo Dan Sarginson and Elijah Taylor, knows the Vikings will be motivated by the aim of causing an upset.
“I’m sure Widnes will be coming with a really concise game plan and try to unnerve and rattle us,” Marshall said.
“The Championship teams come with lots of energy, lots of enthusiasm and a really good, simple plan.”
Widnes head coach Simon Finnigan has injury-enforced absences to contend with too, but ex-Salford forward Lee Jewitt is set to make his debut, while former Challenge Cup winners Matty Smith and Paul Clough are both in his squad as well.
🗣️ "We want to put into practise everything that we've been doing on the training field and execute a really resolute, strong game plan."
📽️ Watch yesterday's pre-match press conference with Marshall on RDTV 👉 https://t.co/qG8KkuklHK
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Salford Red Devils: Morgan Escare, Ken Sio, Kallum Watkins, Krisnan Inu, Tui Lolohea, Lee Mossop, Andy Ackers, Seb Ikahihifo, Pauli Pauli, Oliver Roberts, Josh Johnson, Chris Atkin, Elliot Kear, Harvey Livett, Rhys Williams, Matt Costello, Jack Ormondroyd, Jack Wells, Sam Luckley, Darcy Lussick, Dec Patton.
Widnes Vikings: Jack Owens, Jake Spedding, Ste Tyrer, Deon Cross, Danny Craven, Matty Smith, Paul Clough, Shane Grady, Adam Lawton, Lee Jewitt, Connor Dwyer, Joe Lyons, Lloyd Roby, Joe Edge, Owen Buckley, Josh Wilde, Lewis Else, Will Tilleke, Daniel Hill, Oliver Brookes.
St Helens vs Leeds Rhinos (2.30pm)
The tie of the round pits Challenge Cup holders Leeds against back-to-back Super League champions St Helens, who are aiming to lift the trophy for the first time since 2008.
Kristian Woolf’s first season as Saints head coach last year saw them knocked out of the cup by Warrington Wolves, but he is excited by the prospect of taking on the holders at this early stage.
Woolf also has full-back Lachlan Coote back for his first appearance of the season, while Agnatius Paasi returns after being sidelined with a head injury.
“Leeds obviously had some success last year and we get the opportunity to play the Challenge Cup champions,” Woolf said.
“The fact that we haven’t had success in this competition for a very long time hasn’t been lost on us.”
Leeds head coach Richard Agar, who is without nine players for this tie at Totally Wicked Stadium, does not want last year’s cup triumph to be a one-off.
Tomorrow's mouth-watering @TheChallengeCup clash is enough to make your hair stand on end….🏆
Isn't that right @LouieMS14 👀 💇♂️#COYS pic.twitter.com/ewnpa2LAbY
“Clearly memories like that are very special for players and they are memories you want to experience again and again,” Agar said.
St Helens: Lachlan Coote, Tommy Makinson, Kevin Naiqama, Mark Percival, Regan Grace, Jonny Lomax, Theo Fages, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Matty Lees, Joel Thompson, James Bentley, Sione Mata’utia, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Kyle Amor, Agnatius Paasi, Jack Welsby, Joe Batchelor, Lewis Dodd, Josh Simm, Jake Wingfield.
Leeds Rhinos: Tom Briscoe, Luke Gale, Mikolaj Oledzki, Kruise Leeming, Matt Prior, Alex Mellor, Rhyse Martin, Zane Tetevano, Brad Dwyer, Liam Sutcliffe, Cameron Smith, King Vuniyayawa, Bodene Thompson, Alex Sutcliffe, Sam Walters, Luke Briscoe, James Donaldson, Jarrod O’Connor, Jack Broadbent, Corey Hall, Morgan Gannon.
Catalans Dragons vs Wakefield Trinity (5pm)
The second match of Saturday’s double-header at the Totally Wicked Stadium is a re-run of one of last year’s matchups which saw Catalans triumph 36-24 over Wakefield Trinity.
Wakefield head coach Chris Chester is optimistic it will be different for his side this time around though as Trinity aim to reach Wembley for the first time since 1979.
Chester’s options for this match have also been boosted by the return of Max Jowitt plus Tom Johnstone being available for selection.
“It’s a totally different team to last year,” said Trinity coach Chris Chester. “We were patched up with the Covid issues we had and we lost Liam Kay early.
“We’re the only team in Super League that hasn’t reached a final so it would be huge to get there.”
Jordan Dezaria intègre le groupe professionnel avec effet imémdiat
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Catalans head into the tie without suspended pair Michael McIlorum and Joel Tomkins, while Mickael Goudemand misses out through injury, but reserve player Jordan Dezaria is included in the squad after signing a full-time contract.
Catalans Dragons: Arthur Mourgue, Tom Davies, Samisoni Langi, Dean Whare, Fouad Yaha, James Maloney, Josh Drinkwater, Gil Dudson, Julian Bousquet, Matt Whitley, Mike McMeeken, Benjamin Garcia, Alrix Da Costa, Benjamin Julien, Paul Seguier, Matthieu Laguerre, Corentin Le Cam, Jason Baitieri, Sam Kasino, Sam Tomkins, Jordan Dezaria.
Wakefield Trinity: Max Jowitt, Tom Johnstone, Bill Tupou, Reece Lyne, Liam Kay, Jacob Miller, Mason Lino, David Fifita, Tinirau Arona, Matty Ashurst, Kelepi Tanginoa, Joe Westerman, Jay Pitts, James Batchelor, Chris Green, Innes Senior, Jordy Crowther, Joe Arundel, Adam Tangata, Josh Wood, Ryan Hampshire.
Featherstone Rovers vs Hull FC (7pm)
Had things worked out differently, Featherstone would have been competing at the same level as Hull FC in Super League in 2021.
Rovers were one of the six Championship clubs who applied to join the competition to replace Toronto Wolfpack, but ultimately Leigh Centurions were chosen ahead of them.
Wins over Bradford Bulls and Batley Bulldogs earned the three-time Challenge Cup winners an opportunity to test themselves against top-flight opposition in this competition though and they welcome unbeaten Hull FC to the Millennium Stadium.
It will be a new experience for Black and Whites head coach Brett Hodgson, who has not been to Rovers’ ground before, and he is not underestimating their opponents.
“I know there’s a slope and the in-goals are very small, and the lights are not the brightest,” Hodgson said. “The coaching staff have had a discussion about all those challenges.
📺 Brett Hodgson looks ahead to Saturday's cup meeting with @FevRoversRLFC in his pre-match press conference, brought to you by Jacuzzi®
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“It could be a leveller if we’re not disciplined and strong enough to not allow it to be but I’m confident we will go there with the right attitude to perform at the level we want to.”
Hull FC are without Josh Reynolds and Ligi Sao due to injury, but Marc Sneyd is available after suffering a leg injury in the 22-10 win over Huddersfield Giants.
Featherstone Rovers: Craig Hall, Ben Blackmore, Kris Welham, Josh Hardcastle, Gareth Gale, Tom Holmes, Dane Chisholm, Fa’amanu Brown, James Harrison, Brett Ferres, Brad Day, Connor Jones, Jack Bussey, Luke Cooper, Callum Field, Frankie Halton, Dean Parata, Loui McConnell, Harvey Spence, Liam Whitton, Junior Moors.
Hull FC: Jake Connor, Bureta Faraimo, Carlos Tuimavave, Josh Griffin, Mahe Fonua, Marc Sneyd, Scott Taylor, Danny Houghton, Chris Satae, Andre Savelio, Manu Ma’u, Jordan Johnstone, Joe Cator, Jordan Lane, Brad Fash, Ben McNamara, Jack Brown, Adam Swift, Josh Bowden, Connor Wynne, Cameron Scott.
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