Maguire’s Challenge Cup dream

Michael Maguire has one last roll of the Carnegie Challenge Cup dice when Wigan travel to take on Warrington Wolves at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Saturday, July 23 (4.30pm) and he is determined not to ruin his childhood dream.

The Wigan boss, who quits the Warriors at the end of the season to take over at South Sydney Rabbitohs, already has the Super League crown to his credit, but it’s the Challenge Cup and the memory of getting up in the middle of the night as a kid in Australia to watch the competition on TV, that is now driving on the 37-year-old coach.

“I grew up watching the Cup so I know a lot about the competition and how important it is to Wigan,” said Maguire. “The Cup is a big part of the history of the club and it was quite an honour when I got this job to think I could be part of that.”

Maguire is wary of looking too far ahead due to the severity of the threat posed by Warrington in this week’s televised quarter final, but he admits he’d love to add some glorious Cup memories to those of winning the Grand Final at Old Trafford last year.

“The biggest memory for me from that night was seeing the excitement on the faces of the players after we won,” he said. “The enjoyment they got was something very special for me and it’s a memory that will live with me for a long time.

“I know how hard they had worked for that and I know how hard they are now working as a group to try and get more success.

“I was very lucky as an assistant coach to get to quite a few Grand Finals in Australia but that’s different as an assistant. To win a Grand Final as a head coach, and to see the excitement of your players, was very special.

“To win the Cup as well would be very nice but the focus at the moment is on Warrington. But if we keep working together like we have been then hopefully things will take care of themselves.”

Maguire’s Cup hopes in his debut season last year were dashed in the quarter finals in dramatic fashion at Headingley, when Leeds full-back Lee Smith snatched a last minute try for a 12-10 victory and this year’s last eight showdown looks even tougher, with high-flying Warrington desperate not to lose their two-year grip on the silverware.

Maguire added: “It’s a tough draw but at the end of the day that’s what makes the Cup so special. Whether it’s Warrington, or another team, you have to perform well or you get knocked out.

“It’s a special opportunity for us against Warrington. Without a doubt they are a very good team and they have been the form team throughout the competition.

“They are playing well but we have built a lot of confidence over the last couple of months. Credit to the players because they have looked at their game and seen areas of improvement that were needed and they’ve worked hard on those.

“The Grand Final also gave us a lot of confidence that we know how to win the big games and we’ve definitely taken a lot of positives from that.”

Carnegie Challenge Cup Quarter Final ties:

Saturday July 23
Warrington Wolves v Wigan Warriors
Halliwell Jones Stadium, (4.30pm) Live on BBC 2

Sunday July 24
Hull FC v Leeds Rhinos
KC Stadium (3.30pm) Live on BBC 2

Sunday July 24
St Helens v Hull Kingston Rovers
Stobart Stadium Halton (3.00pm)

Sunday July 24
Castleford Tigers  v Huddersfield Giants
PROBIZ Coliseum (3.30pm)

Tickets for the 2011 Carnegie Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday August 27 costs from £21 to £76 and are selling fast. Last year’s final was a sell-out and fans are advised to move quickly to secure their seat at the historic showpiece final. To book tickets call 0844 856 1113 or visit www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk

For more information about the Carnegie Challenge Cup visit www.carnegiechallengecup.co.uk

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