Offiah relishes Widnes-Wigan clash

He spent much of his career racing down the wing but Rugby League legend Martin Offiah will be sitting on the fence this weekend when two of his former clubs do battle in the fifth round of the Carnegie Challenge Cup.

The former Widnes and Wigan flier expects Saturday night’s  tie at Stobart Stadium to live up to all the expectations of two clubs who have a glorious Challenge Cup pedigree.

The Cup’s greatest ever try-scoring hero is convinced Saturday’s game will be a thriller because it means so much to both sides.

The Vikings – who have strong ambitions to retake their place in Engage Super League – will be determined bring the current Super League leaders down to earth with a bump.

Wigan, meanwhile, will see this year’s competition as their best chances for years to grab back a trophy they used to call their own.

Offiah, who was a key part of Wigan’s glory years in the late 80s and 90s, said: “It is going to be a game that will get the juices flowing.

“Both sides have impressive Cup pedigrees and without a doubt this will be a game to watch out for.

“Widnes have got a bit of a chip on their shoulder about not being in Super League and have an ‘us against them’ feeling.

“Wigan, meanwhile, have been invincible for most of the season and were close to their best against Huddersfield on Magic Weekend, when they bounced back from that surprise defeat by Harlequins.

“Widnes coach Paul Cullen will be under no illusions about how tough it will be but he will definitely have looked at those things.

“Nobody should get carried away because Wigan will come in as favourites and I am sure they will come through.

“But the fact that Widnes are at home gives them more of a chance. It is less daunting to play a top team on your own patch – a lot of giant-killing acts have been achieved in the underdogs’ own back yard.

“I remember when Wigan got knocked out in 1996, after our eight-year winning run, it happened at Salford.”

Offiah’s name is so synonymous with the Challenge Cup that he had a bar named after him at Wembley for his length-of-the-field try against Leeds in the 1994 final

It is still a competition that lights Offiah’s fire, more than the Grand Final or any other sporting event.

He said: “113 years of history means it’s part of British culture and the mystique of the Cup has been recaptured now it’s back at Wembley.

“It’s just a fabulous competition. I’ve got a bar named after me at Wembley for that try in 1994 and that has to be a highlight for me – it’s a try that’s ingrained in British sporting folklore, not just Rugby League folklore.

“But I’ve a lot of other memories, including playing at Wigan against Widnes at Naughton Park when it went to extra time. That was very nerve-racking.

“I’ve also played for Widnes against Wigan in the Cup, so I will certainly be watching this weekend’s fifth round clash with a lot of interest.”

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