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Wigan’s dynasty dream against the rising Robins

17 May 24, 11:13AM 0 Comments

Written by John Davidson

Wigan’s building dynasty will clash against the forward momentum of improving Hull KR in the Challenge Cup semi-finals this Saturday.

Wigan are the defending Super League champions and the reigning World Club Challenge holders. Last year they won the League Leader’s Shield, as well as the grand final, and in 2022 they took out the Challenge Cup at Tottenham.

Under coach Matty Peet they have been reborn.

The Warriors won’t admit it publicly, but they are out to build a new dynasty that can match their great, all-conquering sides of the 1980s and 1990s.

With a new, ambitious owner, a coaching team under contract long-term, and a spine locked down with long deals, their long-term plan is to dominate the competition. St Helens did it, from 2019 to 2022, and their neighbours would love to emulate or better them.

With match-winning Aussie speedsters Bevan French and Jai Field, England internationals like Luke Thompson, Harry Smith and Jake Wardle, gnarled veterans such as Liam Farrell and Mike Cooper, and a string of promising youngsters like Junior Nsemba, Tiaki Chan and Sam Eseh, as their academy continues to produce the goods, the building blocks are in place for a potential period of dominance.

Enter Hull KR.

The Robins haven’t won a major league title since 1985, nor the Challenge Cup since 1980. They have gotten to Wembley twice in the past decade, but not managed to snare the trophy on the day.

But since being promoted back into Super League in 2018 the east Yorkshire outfit has been building slowly. They are no longer easybeats or fighting relegation.

Following Willie Peters’ appointment as head coach at the end of 2022, the improvement has continued apace – fourth place and a semi-final birth last year, a golden point Cup final loss to Leigh at Wembley. Off the field the club has attracted more investment, has promising stadium redevelopment plans and its attendances are growing.

This season on the field they have already knocked off St Helens and Wigan in the league. They have shown their sharpness in attack and their steel in defence. However, Hull KR are dying for major silverware.

With Peters now staying at Craven Park for four more years, and the likes of England internationals Mikey Lewis and Jez Litten thriving in the playmaking positions, combined with the influence of Tyrone May, Niall Evalds and inspirational skipper Elliot Minchella, they are also establishing strong foundations.

The Robins’ recruitment has been meticulous in recent times. Peta Hiku and Tom Opacic have been excellent buys. Jai Whitebread and Kelepi Tanginao have given them more grunt up front. They have workhorses like Dean Hadley and James Batchelor.

Next year they will have even more experience in their ranks with the addition of Roosters legend and Kiwi enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.

But Hull KR don’t want to wait until 2025. They will think their time is now.

Wigan are the real deal. They have proved their class by winning a Super League double last year and then knocking off the champion Penrith Panthers in February. That result will go down in history.

Wigan are where Hull KR want to get to. They are the benchmark.

If the Robins can really make the jump from challengers to champions, Saturday will show all.

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