Hoping to be the King of Wembley
CASINO'S Matt King will wait until the last possible moment to decide if his injured hamstring is up to the rigours of an English Challenge Cup rugby league final after being named in Warrington's 19-man squad for the Wembley Stadium spectacular tonight.
King injured his hamstring after scoring three tries to help the Wolves into the decider against the Huddersfield Giants, the first time for 19 years Warrington will have contested a Challenge Cup final.
Should he take the field it's believed he will be the first Northern Rivers product to play in a Challenge Cup final and he has travelled with the team to London.
However, King is mindful of his responsibilities before such a big match.
“I'd love to play but I won't unless I'm 100 per cent fit or very near,” he told English newspaper The Guardian.
“If I play and only last 10 or 15 minutes that's no good for the team.”
King has been in contact with his mother Narelle at Evans Head, who has been praying the rangy centre or winger can overcome the injury that has seen him miss two weeks already.
“When he was on the bus down to London he said he was okay and that he hoped the hamstring would stay that way,” she said.
“In all my prayers I've been praying for him to be okay but I said that even if he doesn't play at least he helped get the team there.”
King has had a glittering career since graduating from the Casino juniors to senior Group One football with Marist Brothers.
He won an NRL premiership with Melbourne in 2007 and represented NSW Country, New South Wales and Australia.
A Challenge Cup victory would be a unique milestone for a footballer who came close to quitting the sport before cracking a regular first-grade spot.
The fact that King will be joined by another former Casino product, coach Tony Smith, in the Challenge Cup final is even more remarkable.
Smith, who took over at Warrington midway through the season, has already contested one Challenge Cup final when he was in charge of Leeds in 2005.
Unfortunately for Smith, Leeds went down to Hull 25-24.
“Matt really likes being coached by Tony,” Narelle King said.
“It's quite amazing that there are two Australians in the side, let alone two Casino boys.”
To round off the equation, the Huddersfield coach is Nathan Brown, who was brought up at Maclean before moving to Sydney to pursue a career with St George.