Wigan, St Helens, Wakefield stars in Team of the Week from Challenge Cup finals day

Ben Olawumi
Challenge Cup Team of the Week

Love Rugby League's Team of the Week from the 2024 Challenge Cup finals day at Wembley

After lengthy discussions at Love Rugby League towers, we’ve finally managed to settle on our Team of the Week from Challenge Cup finals day.

There were a number of outstanding individual displays at Wembley on Saturday, so this was a difficult week in terms of our selection.

Here are our picks, with the three senior winning clubs under the arch represented this week…

Note: We haven’t taken the game into consideration, but our congratulations go to both St Peters Catholic High School and Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf for featuring in the Champion Schools Year 7 Boys’ Final which got the day underway at Wembley.

1. Max Jowitt

Max Jowitt
Max Jowitt kicks a conversion for Wakefield Trinity at Wembley in the 1895 Cup final, which Trinity won having beaten Sheffield Eagles 50-6

It goes under the radar when there’s a blowout scoreline like 50-6, but Jowitt kicked 14 of those 50 points at Wembley for Wakefield as they beat Sheffield Eagles. His in-game kicking was near-perfect, too, as it has been for much of this year.

RELATED: The impressive record set by Wakefield Trinity in their 1895 Cup final triumph

2. Phoebe Hook

Phoebe Hook
Phoebe Hook in action for St Helens during the 2024 Women’s Challenge Cup final, which they won, beating Leeds Rhinos 22-0

At the age of 20, having crossed the whitewash in Saints‘ 22-0 victory against Leeds Rhinos on Saturday, Hook has now scored in back-to-back Challenge Cup finals. If that isn’t impressive enough, the winger only made the switch to league from rugby union last year. She was electric throughout the 80 minutes, unstoppable at times, scoring the second of the Red V’s four tries.

3. Zach Eckersley

Zach Eckersley
Wigan Warriors young gun Zach Eckersley scores their first try in the 2024 Challenge Cup final triumph against Warrington Wolves

Another 20-year-old here and Wigan‘s first inclusion in the shape of Eckersley, with Saturday at Wembley just his fifth senior appearance for the Warriors. The young centre was hugely impressive as they beat Warrington Wolves 18-8. His try was the memorable moment, of course, but he barely put a foot wrong all game, and when he did, he ensured it didn’t cost his team.

RELATED: Inside the whirlwind Wembley week of Wigan Warriors young gun Zach Eckersley: From Matt Peet phone call to try-scoring heroics

4. Oliver Pratt

Oliver Pratt
Oliver Pratt in action for Wakefield Trinity in 2024

Once Wakefield had got their noses in front having been 6-0 behind at the midway mark in the first half, it felt inevitable they’d run away with it. Teenager Pratt had a big hand in ensuring that was the case, scoring their first and third tries after the break, a real force in them making their quality count.

5. Jermaine McGillvary

Jermaine McGillvary
Jermaine McGillvary celebrates a try for Wakefield Trinity in 2024

In the build-up to the 1895 Cup final, veteran winger McGillvary revealed he’d never been to Wembley before. Well, he’ll certainly remember his first trip to the national stadium. The 36-year-old’s try-scoring knack has and will never disappear, crashing over twice late on having exhausted his opponents in the hour or so prior.

LRL RECOMMENDS: 13 touching images as rugby league paid tribute to Rob Burrow on Challenge Cup finals day

6. Bevan French

Bevan French
Bevan French puts the grubber kick through for Wigan Warriors team-mate Zach Eckersley to score their first try in the 2024 Challenge Cup final triumph against Warrington Wolves

Every member of the Love Rugby League team in the Wembley press box, just as most of the media there did, voted French in the Lance Todd Trophy poll. He was outstanding for Wigan, teeing up Eckersley’s try before dancing over for one of his own. No occasion ever seems to phase the playmaker, a man for the big occasion, well every occasion really!

7. Luke Gale

Luke Gale
Wakefield Trinity’s Luke Gale (front) celebrates his try in their 1895 Cup final triumph against Sheffield Eagles

Likewise, we’re putting Gale in the halves alongside him here having been the star of the show in Wakefield’s 1895 Cup triumph, picking up the Ray French Award with a man of the match performance. It was his try which put Trinity ahead in the first half, and they never looked back after that. The 35-year-old was involved in everything, a very good showing.

We must give a bit of a mention to Saints’ half-back pairing Faye Gaskin and Zoe Harris here, too. They didn’t quite make the cut for our 13, but were both superb earlier in the day in the Women’s Challenge Cup final. The latter was awarded Player of the Match.

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8. Luke Thompson

Luke Thompson
Luke Thompson in action for Wigan Warriors during their 2024 Challenge Cup final triumph against Warrington Wolves

Wigan’s forward pack utterly dominated Warrington’s, and that contributed heavily to what turned out a victory more comfortable than the 18-8 scoreline suggests. Thompson laid his past Wembley demons to bed in style with the type of assured performance we’ve become accustomed to since his return to Super League. Powerhouse.

9. Brad O’Neill

Brad O'Neill
Brad O’Neill lifts the Challenge Cup following Wigan Warriors’ triumph in the competition’s 2024 final against Warrington Wolves

O’Neill had a bit of a nervous wait on the Match Review Panel this time last week, but having escaped a ban, the hooker put in a superb showing under the arch. It was clear he and Harry Smith had practiced the move from the scrum which led to French’s first-half try, and the 21-year-old’s ability to pull apart the Wolves with the moves he commanded was a joy to watch.

RELATED: Wigan CEO Kris Radlinski makes Warriors claim following historic Challenge Cup triumph

10. Chantelle Crowl

Matty Smith, Chantelle Crowl
St Helens forward Chantelle Crowl (right) celebrates their 2024 Women’s Challenge Cup triumph alongside head coach Matty Smith (left) following their victory in the competition’s final against Leeds Rhinos

Toronto-born Crowl had scored in two of Saints‘ Challenge Cup games leading into the final, and repeated the feat, powering over the try-line from close range with circa eight minutes remaining to put the icing on the cake of the historic four-peat. The back-rower is tough to stop at the best of times, but with silverware on the line, there was no stopping her on Saturday.

11. Emily Rudge

Emily Rudge
St Helens ace Emily Rudge celebrates their 2024 Women’s Challenge Cup triumph following their victory in the competition’s final against Leeds Rhinos

Rudge is just ‘Mrs Consistent’, and has been for some years now. We thought she was immense on Saturday, standing up when Saints needed her to yet again, seeming to be involved in virtually every tackle made by someone in a shirt with a Red V on it, and providing impetus in abundance going forward.

RELATED: The 3 remarkable records St Helens equalled with 2024 Women’s Challenge Cup triumph

12. Liam Farrell

Liam Farrell
Wigan captain Liam Farrell (centre) holds aloft the Challenge Cup following the Warriors’ 2024 triumph in the competition’s final against Warrington Wolves

With the skipper red-faced sat alongside him, Warriors boss Matt Peet sung the praises of Farrell in his post-match press conference at Wembley, and was right to do so! He turned back the clock as he raced through to score the try which really sealed it for Wigan, but was quality throughout, as per usual. Like a fine wine.

13. Kaide Ellis

Kaide Ellis
Draped in an Australia flag, and donning his winners’ medal, an emotional Kaide Ellis applauds the Wigan Warriors supporters at Wembley following their 2024 Challenge Cup triumph having beaten Warrington Wolves in the competition’s final

Rounding things off is a man who actually got a vote in the Lance Todd Trophy poll by a member of the media in Ellis. He was never going to win that thanks to how good team-mate French had been on the day, but the Aussie forward was sensational at loose. He told us there was a pressure attached to Wigan’s #13 shirt in the build-up to the final, he didn’t play like there was!

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