Paul Wellens tips next Lance Todd trophy winner

Former Lance Todd Trophy winner Paul Wellens has tipped either Zak Hardaker or Ben Westwood to lift the trophy.

The pair from Leeds and Warrington respectively, go head to head in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley. Having seen the form of both sides, Wellens believes the duo are favourites to win the most prestigious individual award in rugby league and be named man of the match in the Challenge Cup final.

Wellens said: “Warrington have been in great form recently and there are three players who will be key to them getting a third win. Ben Westwood is a key player for their pack with the effort he puts in to get them on the front foot. 

“I also think Zak Hardaker could be pivotal in the game, he’s had a great season and has been fantastic at full-back since stepping in for Brent Webb and he certainly has the skills to stand out at Wembley.”

Wellens knows what it takes to win a Lance Todd trophy. He won the award in 2007 (jointly with Leon Pryce) and in 2008 against Catalan and Hull FC

St Helens have not had the chance to repeat their Challenge Cup triumph which saw Wellens win three consecutive cups from 2006 until 2008. However the veteran fullback still has fond memories of the finals and the atmospheres they generate.

He said: “Unfortunately I never got to play at the old Wembley, but to play there in 2007 was great. Wembley has an aura about it and a great history associated with it.

“The first few cup finals I played in were all on the road at places like Twickenham and the Millennium Stadium. Those were great experiences, but to be able to play in the first final at the new Wembley in 2007 was a very special moment for me and something I’m really proud to have experienced.

“When you go back through history to some of the greatest ever cup finals, like the Hull final in 1980, you automatically associate games like that with Wembley. It’s because of that history that the Challenge Cup final belongs at Wembley.

“Everyone in Rugby League grows up watching the Challenge Cup final and it carries a very special history. It’s probably the one occasion when Rugby League really goes national and when people from other sports and general sports fans stand up and take notice. It’s a massive occasion for the game and to win the Lance Todd Trophy on that stage is amazing.”

Warrington and Leeds will contest the Challenge Cup final on Saturday, August 25. The match is a repeat of the 2010 final in which Warrington won 30-6.

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