Esders dreams of Wembley return

Harlequins second rower Ryan Esders hopes to move one step closer to playing at Wembley again with a victory over St Helens at the Stoop on Sunday.

Aged 11, Esders took part in a school competition on the old Wembley pitch ahead of the 1998 Challenge Cup Final and is desperate to play at the new Wembley with Harlequins.

“I remember it very vividly; playing at Wembley was an amazing experience, made even better by the fact we won. Then we all stayed to watch the famous final when Sheffield Eagles beat Wigan.

“I know it was only junior league, but I feel very lucky to have played at the old Wembley, as that opportunity has now gone forever. But what I really want to do is get to the final with Quins and win at the new Wembley.”

Harlequins face St Helens in the fifth round of the Carnegie Challenge Cup on Sunday, in what will be the second time the teams have met this season. Saints narrowly won 32-24 on that occasion, but since then Harlequins have beaten Wakefield, Wigan and Hull, and Esders says confidence is high.

“The last time we played St Helens we were unlucky not to beat them. They weren’t any better than us, it was just a case of a few things going their way; it could have gone either way. The way we’re playing at the moment, we could beat anyone.

“I’m really pleased we get a shot at revenge so soon. If you want to win the Challenge Cup, you want to beat the best teams on the way.”

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