Adrian Morley still holds onto Challenge Cup memories

Warrington Wolves captain Adrian Morley will arguably be the most experienced player on the field when he takes to the Wembley turf on Saturday.

The 35-year old has played in Grand Finals and won trophies on both sides of the world, having won an NRL Grand Final with Sydney Roosters (and World Club Challenge), a Super League Grand Final with Bradford Bulls and three Challenge Cups with both of this weekends’ finalists, Leeds Rhinos and Warrington Wolves.

But it’s the memories of Challenge Cup finals that he holds dearly in his heart as he prepares to lead his Wolves side to their third cup final success in four years.

Morley made his cup final debut in Leeds’ 52-16 win over London Broncos in 1999. The game is more famous for Leroy Rivett’s four tries in a final, a feat that may never be repeated.

However the following year success turned into despair for Morley and Leeds as they lost 24-18 to Bradford at Murrayfield.

Morley said: “We were massive underdogs in 2000 and had a bad start to the year. In the final we started poorly, but got a second wind and had the game gone on any longer we would have sneaked it.”

That would be Morley’s last season in England before jetting off to join the Sydney Roosters in 2001. However he returned to England and signed for Warrington in 2007. It took the Wolves two more years before they won silverware, under the stewardship of Morley as captain.

Morley said he had contrasting memories of that 2009 season, but it ended sweetly with a cup winners medal in his collection.

He said: “Our form in the league was poor, we were mid-table but we kept getting it right in the cup games.

“I remember in the quarter final at Hull KR, they were playing very well and it was a great game for TV. It was 24-all at full time so it went to extra time and we got the win.

“The next minute we were in the semis playing Wigan. We did a job on Wigan and the next thing we know we’re in the final. We expected to play St Helens but Huddersfield upset the form book.

“It was amazing for a club like Warrington considering the amount of time they hadn’t won it, and to be part of that winning team was pretty special.”

The following year, Warrington won the cup for a second time against Leeds. The Wolves were too dominant in a game which saw Chris Hicks score a hat trick but not get awarded the Lance Todd Trophy. That went to Lee Briers, who had helped Morley left the trophy (pictured) the previous season.

Morley said: “I asked him would he lift it with me. He was captain for a long time before me and played a massive role in not only getting us there but to actually wining it, I felt it was fitting he should lift the trophy with me and he was pleased with the gesture and he still speaks about it now. 

“But I wasn’t sharing it in 2010. I was keeping it to myself!

“To win the cup is great but to go back and defend the title was pretty special. They boys got it right, we were more consistent in the league that year and in the final we did a job on Leeds. We scored some points and it was a more convincing win than the year before.”

Morley now hopes to lift the cup as captain for a third time.

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