Leeds Rhinos hooker Brad Dwyer reckons the Challenge Cup is living up to its name after the holders were handed a third-round trip to St Helens.
“It couldn’t really be any tougher,” said the 27-year-old of Saturday’s BBC One-screened tie, which will take head coach Richard Agar’s right-hand man Sean Long back to the club with whom he won the competition five times.
“It’s probably the hardest draw at this early stage of the competition that I’ve had as a player, but it’s a great opportunity to see where we’re at as a team.
“To win the competition, you generally have to beat top sides along the way, and we know that if we can produce our best, we’re capable of beating anyone.”
Dwyer came off the bench during last season’s 17-16 Challenge Cup Final win over Salford, and he is ready to once again rotate the starting spot with Kruise Leeming, who is fresh from extending his contract to the end of 2024.
The former Warrington man’s current deal runs to the end of 2022, and he’s more than happy with life at Emerald Headingley, having moved ahead of the 2018 campaign.
“I’m really settled at Leeds – it feels like home,” he added.
“I enjoyed my time at Warrington, and Micky Higham’s move to Leigh (in 2015) gave me a great chance to establish myself after I’d struggled for opportunities earlier in my career.
“But I think I needed the move, and it’s worked out well for me at Leeds.
“I feel like I’ve proven both to myself and others that I can play at this level, and that’s something I needed to do.
“I’ve been able to iron out what Rich wants from me and what I want from myself, and while I know I’m not a shoo-in, I also know there’s a spot in the 17 unless my form dips badly.
“That means I don’t feel the pressure of trying to make something happen every week to stay in the side.
“I can take opportunities when they come along rather than searching for them, and that enables me to focus on doing the team stuff well.
“Over the last 18 months, I think I’ve been playing some of my best rugby, and I want to build on that, maintain consistency and work to produce what Rich wants from me.”
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