The four-time Challenge Cup winner is determined not to take Barrow Raiders, the current Co-operative Championship title holders, lightly following their fourth round victory over Engage Super League club Castleford Tigers.
Gardner said: “I feel privileged to have played in four finals and won them all but it’s not something we take for granted. We certainly won’t be taking Barrow for granted either.
“We were all disappointed with our semi-final defeat by Huddersfield last year and that’s made us more determined.”
Gardner will face his former club in a competitive fixture for the first time since leaving in 2001 and accepts that Barrow have nothing to lose ahead of the clash at Knowsley Road.
“Nobody will be expecting Barrow to win so they have nothing to lose and can enjoy the occasion,” said the St Helens winger.
“It’s a great achievement by Barrow to reach the last eight and this will be their cup final.
“I’m really pleased for my old club and the fans deserve some time in the limelight.”
“We didn’t have too much to celebrate when I was there but this Cup run has put the town on the map, especially with the soccer club winning the FA Trophy recently,” he said.
“We didn’t do too well in the Challenge Cup when I was there in 2001 and I remember beating local amateurs Askam 40-16 before we were trounced 56-4 at home by Halifax, who were then a Super League club.”
“I know Barrow will be bringing more fans than usual down the M6. They had a great following for the televised match at Leigh this season and the Barrow folk love their Rugby League,” he said.
“Steve McCormack has built a useful team and we’ll have to keep a close eye on Jamie Rooney who was their star man at Castleford.”