My Set of Six: with Saints legend Paul Sculthorpe featuring Ellery Hanley & Challenge Cup finals

Drew Darbyshire

Great Britain and St Helens legend Paul Sculthorpe is our latest guest on My Set of Six.

We’re asking you, the fans, plus players, coaches and other rugby league personalities to give us their answers to our set of six questions.

Favourite away ground?

I’d say either the DW or Headingley due to the fact that both are great pitches and were always tough games in front of big crowds – and games if you won there gave you more satisfaction than the rest.

Another notable mention was Castleford. It is a bit like Knowsley Road – old in appearance but a great atmosphere with the fans being close to the pitch – and I usually played well there!

Favourite player?

Ellery Hanley – the greatest of all time. I grew up in rugby league during Ellery’s time as Great Britain captain and when he was probably the best player in the world. He was my idol.

He was a loose forward and thats where I always played. I had the pleasure of being coached by him in 1999-2000 at Saints where he had a big impact on me as a professional.

Favourite memory?

The 2004 Challenge Cup final between Saints and Wigan. It is the biggest derby in rugby league and it was at one of the best stadiums in the Millennium Stadium. It was my first final as captain and my brother was on the opposition team and we won. We put in a top performance that day – and to follow the captains who I’d grown up watching lift the Challenge Cup was special.

Worst memory?

I have been quite lucky to have more successes than disappointments during my career. The 2002 Challenge Cup final loss to Wigan was my only defeat in a final. That hurt as we were strong favourites that day and went into the game in great form.

But I’d probably have to say the 2008 Challenge Cup final eclipsed that. I dislocated my shoulder four minutes into the game and my career came to an end there and then. It wasn’t the way I’d have liked to have gone out but I can’t complain with my time.

Best match you’ve seen?

I’d have to say one that stands out was the first Ashes test between Great Britain and Australia at Wembley in 1994. Standing in the corner where Jonathan Davies scored that try and we won 8-4. To play alongside Jiffy the following year in my Warrington debut was unreal.

Your wish for the future of rugby league?

To invest into the grassroots of the game and continue to drive participation and retention of kids playing. The community clubs hold the future stars the sport and the fanbase of the professional game.

In regards to the top level, I personally would like to see a fewer team/more quality Super League competition and I’m sure with no promotion and relegation, more broadcasting investment and marketing opportunities would be generated by this to allow less meaningful fixtures for fans and players – but more international fixtures and possibly Origin/Exiles where we can showcase our best.

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