Wembley a world away from humble beginnings for Holbrook and Price

Saints boss Justin Holbrook
Saints boss Justin Holbrook

Never in their wildest dreams did Justin Holbrook and Steve Price - pupils at the same school from the days they both wore short pants - expect to cross swords in the final of the Rugby League's most famous knockout competition more than 30 years later.

But by a strange twist of fate 43-year-old Holbrook and 41-year-old Price - head coaches respectively of Saints and Warrington Wolves - will be in opposite dug-outs in the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley on Saturday.

The Australian pair grew up in the same south west district of Sydney, and lined up alongside each other at under-7s level - a world away from where they will lock horns in a few days' time.

Holbrook said: “The first year I ever played, we were in the same team and won a comp together, which was great.

''Steve was a little younger than me, and the next season I moved up and we never really spoke at all for 15, 20 years.

“We went to same school but he was in the year below me.

“It’s quite funny when you look back now.

“I remember when he flew over, we went for a cup of coffee and he said who would have thought two blokes that played under-7s together in Sydney would be catching up in St Helens.

“We have a joke that he was always going to end up being a coach because he was one of the kids sat playing in the dirt while everyone else was running around scoring tries and making tackles.

''He knew that he was going to be a coach when he was six.”

The pair didn’t cross paths again until Holbrook was captain-coach of a local side which fed players into Price’s reserve team at St George Illawarra.

Both were NRL assistant coaches at Sydney Roosters and Cronulla, before Holbrook took over at Saints and Price joined him in England at the end of the year.