Leigh Leopards star Josh Charnley believes his side’s rapid rise and the 2023 Challenge Cup victory may never be created again.
Just more than 12 months after lifting the 1895 Cup against Featherstone at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Leigh claimed their first Challenge Cup since 1971 after a dramatic encounter with Hull KR at Wembley.
Lachlan Lam cemented his name in history, kicking the first-ever golden point winner after a late Matt Parcel try sent the game into extra time.
It was the Papua New Guinea international’s first-ever professional drop-goal, with team-mate and full-back Gareth O’Brien having missed a previous attempt in overtime.
Charnley, who is Super League’s third highest-ever try-scorer, believes a combination of Leigh’s promotion, the Challenge Cup triumph and their current third place on the Super League table may never be created again.
“I’m pretty speechless,” Charnley told Love Rugby League after the victory.
“I don’t think what we’ve done today will ever be created again, being newly promoted and winning the Challenge Cup and sitting third in the league, it’s a pretty special group.
“I can’t tell you how tight the team is and it just shows you there with what we’ve done today. We’ll enjoy this moment and we’ll get back to Super League on Thursday or Friday.
“We’ve got a lot of experience, a lot of talent in this team and we’ll see where we can go. We set our standards high and have conquered one of the goals that we’ve put out.”
Josh Charnley: I was ready to quit until I joined Leigh
The eight-capped England international won the Super League Grand Final twice with Wigan in 2013 and 2016, as well as Challenge Cup victories in 2011 and 2013, completing the double that year, with the Warriors.
Charnley says the 2023 achievement is up there in his career, having come close to hanging up the boots last year before joining the Leigh Sports Village outfit mid-way through the season from Warrington.
“It’s high up there,” he stated.
“I was going to quit last year, I’d had enough, but Chris Chester, Derek Beaumont and Adrian Lam brought me in and I’ve found the love for the sport again and you can see that as I’m playing with a smile on my face.
“I’m enjoying it again which is the biggest thing about it.”