Sean Long stokes the fire ahead of Saints v Leeds Challenge Cup clash
Former St Helens favourite Sean Long is determined to extend his old club’s recent barren run in the Betfred Challenge Cup after they were paired with his current side Leeds in the third round.
The Rhinos are aiming for a fourth triumph in the last eight seasons while it is 13 years since Saints, the Betfred Super League champions, enjoyed the last of their 12 victories.
Leeds assistant coach Long, who won the cup five times with St Helens and lifted the Lance Todd trophy as man of the match a record three times, said: “They have had a lot of success in the past and come up short.
“So I know it’s a priority for St Helens and chairman Eamon McManus. They will be gunning for this game.
“It’s a big challenge for us. They looked pretty strong in the first round. Their new signings looked pretty good and we’ll have to keep an eye on Jonny Lomax.
“But I feel, if we can keep improving, we’ll definitely give them a good crack.
“At the moment it’s our trophy so they have to take it off us. I always say once you’ve won it once and know how good it feels, you want more.”
St Helens have been drawn at home but the tie, one of four all-Super League clashes, looks certain to be shown by the BBC, who will screen two third-round games at a neutral venue on Saturday, April 10.
The draw, which was made by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden during a visit to Warrington to mark the return of recreational sport, has paired York City Knights, one of four part-time Championship clubs in the last 16, with 19-times winners Wigan.
However, the Knights, who have moved into a brand new 8,000-capacity stadium, will not be able to fully cash in on the glamour tie since all the matches will continue to be played behind closed doors until late May at the earliest.
York, who lost out to Leigh in the bid to win a place in Super League in 2021, beat Sheffield Eagles and London Broncos to reach the third-round stage.
Championship rivals Swinton take on 2019 winners Warrington while Widnes face a trip to last October’s beaten finalists Salford and Featherstone, who last won the Cup in 1983, have been paired with Hull in a repeat of that final from 28 years ago.
Wakefield have drawn the short straw, with a trip to Perpignan to face Catalans Dragons to whom they lost in last season’s competition.
The third-round ties, to be played on April 9-11, are: York v Wigan, Swinton v Warrington, Hull KR v Castleford, Catalans v Wakefield, Featherstone v Hull FC, St Helens v Leeds, Leigh v Huddersfield, Salford v Widnes.