Five things to look forward to: Cup upsets, great TV coverage, future stars on show

Drew Darbyshire

Anyone else got Cup fever?

A few potential upsets

It’s Challenge Cup weekend! It’s the sixth round of the Challenge Cup and there are a couple of mouth-watering clashes.

Featherstone Rovers host Hull FC on Thursday and that should be a cracker. The Rovers are flying high in the Championship at the minute, while Hull FC have a couple of key players out.

Leigh Centurions welcome Salford Red Devils to the Leigh Sports Village, too. This game could be decided by the flip of a coin. Salford have lost their last couple of games, while Leigh have won their last nine matches. Whitehaven also travel to Catalans, is this too big of a step for Haven? Well, stranger things have happened.

Great television coverage

We tend to see people bemoaning the media’s coverage of rugby league quite regularly now, but we can do anything but moan this weekend.

There will be FOUR Challenge Cup games shown LIVE, two by BBC and two by Sky Sports. Featherstone v Hull FC is on Sky on Thursday, Leigh v Salford is on Sky on Friday, Castleford v St Helens is on BBC One on Saturday and Warrington v Toronto is on BBC Two on Sunday.

And that’s not to mention three NRL games on Sky. New Zealand Warriors v Sydney Roosters, Melbourne Storm v Gold Coast Titans and Manly Sea Eagles v Brisbane Broncos are broadcast live on Saturday morning.

SEVEN games of rugby league!

Return of Ben Barba

A few people will probably comment on this claiming that ‘we are up Ben Barba’s backside!’ but we are not, we promise you, he is just a phenomenal player.

The 28-year-old has been incredible so far this season. Barba has 15 tries and 17 assists to his name in just 12 games and is the clear favourite for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award this year. He is expected to return from injury on Saturday when Saints face Castleford Tigers in the Challenge Cup.

Wolfpack against the Wolves

Warrington Wolves will welcome Toronto Wolfpack to the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Sunday in the Challenge Cup. Could this be another upset? Can Toronto catch Warrington off guard? Or are Warrington just too strong at the minute? It has all of the ingredients to be a quality game.

The Wolfpack are travelling to face the Wolves. It has a ring to it, doesn’t it? Who are the real Wolves? All will be revealed on Sunday.

Toronto star Andy Ackers came through the Warrington academy a couple of years ago but didn’t make a first team appearance for the club. He will certainly be looking to get one over the Wolves and prove a point, alongside Matty Russell.

Future stars on show

The early stages of the Challenge Cup are brilliant chances to see some future internationals in the mix.

Super League clubs offer a chance to one or two of their younger players and it is great to see the teams giving youth a chance.

Josh Wood and Daniel Murray are great prospects at Salford, as is Matty English at Huddersfield. Wakefield have James Batchelor, Widnes have Jordan Johnstone and Ryan Ince, while Leeds have the likes of Jack Walker and Mikolaj Oledzki.

There will be a lot of up and coming talent on show this weekend.