Wolves collect Challenge Cup
WITH Matt King in the centres and Tony Smith as coach, the Warrington Wolves collected the Challenge Cup in England proving that Casino rugby league is worldwide.
The Wolves claimed back-to-back titles with a 30-6 drubbing of Leeds Rhinos at Wembley Stadium over the weekend.
Both raised in Casino, King and Smith teamed up at Warrington in 2009 when the latter took on the head coaching role after a stint with Leeds.
Suffice to say they have had plenty to celebrate since.
King, who recently cut off his famous mop of hair for charity, didn't manage to get his name on the score sheet in the final but he provided plenty of opportunities for his winger – former Manly flyer Chris Hicks – to snatch a memorable hat-trick in the win.
Also featuring in the Wolves outfit were Australian Michael Monaghan, English International and former Sydney Roosters hard man Adrian Morley, New Zealand international David Solomona, and former Warriors brothers Louis and Vinnie Anderson.
King's mum, Narelle, who was flown to England for the match, fielded a call from The Northern Star in the wee hours of the morning and reported a disbelief at the scale of excitement the Challenge Cup had created.
“When we drove back to Warrington the streets were lined with people from the outskirts of town. It was just one great moving mass of blue and yellow – unbelievable,” she said.
“People had been standing there for hours just to welcome the boys home.”
King has linked up with a charity called Families United for which he has raised thousands of pounds in his time in England.
His mum was glad to see that some of the beneficiaries of the charity – who have become King's biggest fans – were given a chance to form a guard of honour for the champion Wolves.
“There were about 100 people with disabilities who had been waiting by the side of the road as the boys hopped off the bus,” she said.
“The mayor was there – it was full-scale celebrations like I had never seen before.”
Wembley Stadium was packed full of 90,000 fans for the Challenge Cup final.
“All the training runs, all the driving, and all the years of hard work, it all came together when Matt ran out onto the field at Wembley,” she said.
“It was just amazing to see it happen.”
And to see the match unfold in front of her own eyes was like a dream come true.
Leeds, which boast former NSW captain Danny Buderus and English legends Keith Senior and Kevin Sinfield, were no match for the rampant Wolves with Hicks' treble, a double from Ryan Atkins and a late try for Louis Anderson crushing their resolve.
Atkins' first-half double and a superb finish from Hicks saw the 2009 winners go into half-time 14-0 up.
Although Lee Smith grabbed a late consolation for Leeds, there was no denying the Wolves as Hicks completed his treble and Anderson rubbed salt into the wounds.
It is 11 years since Leeds last graced the Wembley turf in a Challenge Cup final.