Rugby League legend Adrian Morley believes that Castleford Tigers will stump favourites St Helens to lift their first Betfred Challenge Cup in 35 years on Saturday.
The former prop and second-row star thinks that Castleford will give their head coach Daryl Powell the perfect send off. Powell will be taking over as head coach at Warrington Wolves, Morley’s former side, replacing Steve Price for the 2022 season.
Morley feels that the long wait since their last triumph, as well as wanting to send their coach of eight years off with a trophy, will be the fire that spurs the Tigers on to victory.
He said, “All the players think the world of Daryl, so it’s a great motivation for them to send him off as a winner. I just think it would be great for Daryl, he’s put his life and soul into the club for eight years and made a couple of major finals without winning any of them, so it would be great for him, the players and the town of Castleford.”
The 44-year-old is aware they come into the tie against a strong St Helens side who will be the favourites to lift the trophy come Saturday afternoon. He added, “They will start as underdogs. St Helens are a proven pedigree, not just in this competition, but in the Super League as well. They will start as favourites.”
Morley believes it is hard for players to treat the game like it were any other due to the drastic change in routine and heightened media coverage. “It is very different [to a normal game], there’s the build-up in the press and the game is broadcast on national TV and then you’re staying out of town in London, in nice hotels, so it is very hard to stay focused and say it’s just a normal game because it isn’t.
“All your family and friends are there in the crowd and it’s hard not to focus on them as well. It’s very different but it’s also very enjoyable as well as nerve-wracking.”
With Wembley Stadium set to host 45,000 fans for the final, Salford-born Morley is looking forward to what should be an incredible atmosphere.
“I’m really excited for the crowd, it would have been great to have a few more [thousand] in but the powers at be have said it’s only 45,000 but that is still better than the 50-60 that probably watched it last year.
“With the size of Wembley, it was a travesty that you couldn’t have fans in to watch last year’s final. It’s great we’ve got that many spectators in and let’s hope the two teams can throw up a fantastic piece of Rugby League history and I am sure they will.”