Challenge Cup Final Preview with Mahe Fonua

Hull powerhouse Mahe Fonua will be hoping to return Down Under at the end of the season with a second Challenge Cup winners medal.

The Airlie Birds put arguably the game’s most enduring hoodoo to bed last year with a first victory at the national stadium, now they have a score to settle against the competitions most successful side, after letting themselves down in 2013.

So what would another Wembley victory mean for the likable Aussie?

“One more hurdle to retain it and bring it back to Hull, it’s a big hurdle in Wigan, but we’re confident if we do our things correctly we can bring it back home.”

Having completed a first ever Super League double over the champions this year, will that have a bearing on this game?

“Super League’s a different competition to the Challenge Cup run, we played Castleford and Leeds in our run to this Challenge Cup Final.

“They were in red-hot form in Super League, and we were able to get on top of them comfortably in both those Challenge Cup games.”

“Although we’ve beaten Wigan twice this year, they were Super League games, and the Challenge Cup is totally different, so we expect nothing less than 100% from them.”

Being the holders, is it a different mindset this year? “I don’t know, I just think it’s play it, how we play it this year.

“We did win it last year, and there might be that little bit of added pressure, being the current cup holders, and people trying to take it off us.

“But if we can have a good week’s training and get all our focuses packed in this week, we can go into it with a bit of confidence.”

How important will the fans be at Wembley, how much of a difference did they make last year?

“Yeah, hopefully last week’s performance against Huddersfield won’t dampen their spirit, hopefully they haven’t lost any faith in us.

“It is very meaningful to see a sea of Black & White out at Wembley, and when we leave the KCOM Stadium, to know we have that behind us, our families, our friends, our fans.

“The fans rock up to our games, win or lose, rain or sunny, it means that little bit more to us.”

With the big man returning home to Australia at the end of the season, and captain Gareth Ellis retiring, does that make Wembley more special this year?

“Yeah Gareth is our captain, he’s captained his country, he’s been at a few clubs, he’s been in both competitions, the NRL and Super League, to send him out with another Challenge cup medal is probably the best we can do, and that’s the way he deserves.

“Personally I’d like to go back with another Challenge Cup medal if that can happen, I was very fortunate to be a part of last year’s win, and hopefully we can have that feeling again this season.”

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