Wolves hungry for cup success

Lee Briers could not hide his emotions when Warrington Wolves lifted the Carnegie Challenge Cup for the first time in 35 years last August.

Warrington’s talisman, who is one of the official faces of the 2010 Carnegie Challenge Cup promotional campaign, broke down in tears after the 25-16 triumph over Huddersfield Giants – and no wonder!

Briers, 31, had suffered the pain of being dropped by St Helens for their 1997 Wembley victory over Bradford Bulls after playing in all the earlier rounds.

To compound his Challenge Cup agony, he had also experienced the heartache of three semi-final defeats.

“I was beginning to think I may be jinxed,” said Briers, who admits winning his first medal as a professional last August has given him the hunger for more silverware.

Warrington visit Huddersfield on Saturday in the BBC1 televised fifth round tie (2.30pm) in a repeat of last season’s showpiece final when Briers landed a trademark drop-goal in the last minute.

“We wouldn’t have chosen Huddersfield away at this stage,” said Briers, “The Giants wouldn’t have picked us either!

“To win the trophy you have to beat the best and fortunately we’ve been in good form this season.

“Winning the cup at Wembley was definitely the highlight of my career. It was so special to win such an important trophy with your best mates.”

Richard Nixon resigned as president of the USA, Muhammad Ali beat George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle and The Sting won an Oscar for best film when Warrington had last won the Cup against Featherstone Rovers in 1974.

“It had been a frustrating time for the fans but also for the players,” said Briers, who confesses he was never as nervous as before last season’s semi-final against Wigan at Widnes.

To add poignancy to the occasion it would also have been his elder brother Brian’s 43rd birthday when the Wolves beat the Warriors 39-26 with a man-of-the-match show from Briers – who chipped in with a try and another drop-goal.

“I was very close to Brian who had passed away from cancer eight years earlier and that made the day even more special,” he said.

“I know from experience there is nothing worse than losing a semi-final and I don’t think I could have faced that again.

“We had a great belief though last year and all dreams came true.

“To play at Wembley was so special and to make it more momentous my six-year-old son Reece was the mascot.

“We have it on DVD and it will be great to show to my grandchildren one day.

“Saints and Leeds players are always hungry to win more trophies and now I know why.

“I had only won Academy Challenge Cup finals before we beat Huddersfield but it has whetted my appetite.”

Briers was distraught at being axed by Saints to make way for Bobbie Goulding’s return from injury against Bradford 13 years ago.

“That was the reason I left Saints but it was the best decision of my life.

“Warrington have now assembled the best squad since I arrived at the club but we have won nothing so far this season – we want to change that statistic.”

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