‘Challenge Cup final will go down to the wire but Leeds should edge a thriller’

I’m excited about this Challenge Cup final because in Leeds and Salford we’ve got two teams who really value attacking.

Richard Agar and Ian Watson are two like-minded coaches who understand the importance of moving the ball around to create opportunities – and that should make for a thrilling game.

They are also two guys who didn’t have playing careers at the top end of the sport – but it shows you don’t have to be one of those elite players to coach at this level.

I’ve worked closely with both of them – Rich with Leeds and Watto for Great Britain last year, and they both have not just superb technical knowledge, but they understand the people element of the job.

That’s why we’ve got two teams in the final that some people wouldn’t have expected.

The stand-out players on either side are Luke Gale and Tui Lolohea.

Gale will be key for Leeds

Gale is a supreme organiser and proven winner, and his confidence rubs off on other people.

He is the general for Leeds and his ability to carry out a gameplan within a structure will be key for the Rhinos.

Lolohea has the ability to do the unexpected, produce a piece of magic that can leave you with your mouth open.

It’s great to have those players in your side when they’re on song, but the flip side is if things go awry they can go from 10/10 to 2/10.

Salford need Lolohea to be the 10/10 maverick that he can be if they’re going to win.

The other big element the players will have to deal with is running out at an empty Wembley.

Lolohea needs to be at his best

For those that have played in a Challenge Cup final before it won’t be a completely alien experience because you usually get to do your team run there the day before the game.

It feels pretty strange when you do that and I’m sure it will be surreal stepping out at Wembley with no fans there.

But both sets of players will be delighted that they’re in a Challenge Cup final and it’s certainly going to be one that’s never forgotten.

I’m going for Leeds to win a really close, enthralling game but four to six points – and I’ve got a feeling this final will go right down to the wire.

*** Betfred – Passionate about Super League ***

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