Warrington Wolves hooker Micky Higham believes that defeat in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup semi-final last year has only sharpened his appetite to win the sport’s most coveted trophy for the fourth time in his career.
However Higham is aware his team have a tough battle to face first in their quarter-final against Bradford Bulls at The Provident Stadium on Sunday June 8 (3.30pm).
The Wolves lost 16-12 to Hull FC in last year’s semi-finals and Higham wants to make sure his team won’t be missing out on Cup glory this year.
“We have had a good few years in the Challenge Cup but we fell at the semi-final phase last year which was really disappointing.” said Higham.
“It was really difficult watching the final as I kept thinking we should be arriving at Wembley around now and we would be coming in from the warm up about this time. Not being there has definitely spurred us on this year, we want to be there at Wembley.
“You can’t get tired of winning the Challenge Cup: it’s not possible. It’s something you want to experience as many times as you can and each time is special as you have a different set of players with you which makes it great.”
Warrington faced the Bulls in First Utility Super League in early May which ended with the Bulls emerging victorious so Higham is expecting a tough game on Sunday.
“When we played them about a month ago we underestimated them and they beat us 34-28. I think we are playing better than that now but we both had good results at the weekend so both teams will be going in to the game with confidence,” he said.
“We will prepare as normal as if it is just another game but deep down you know that it isn’t just a normal game and potentially you could be one game away from Wembley. You try and blank out those sorts of thoughts but it is really difficult because it is such a special competition.”
Growing up as a Rugby League fan means the Tetley’s Challenge Cup has a special place in Higham’s heart and he acknowledges the experience and elation it has given him both as a fan and as a player.
“I grew up watching the Challenge Cup, it’s the most prestigious Cup you can win and there has been some shocks over the years so you never know what is going to happen and that makes it such an exciting competition,” he said.
“I’ve still got the hunger and the drive to play and do well. I’ve always known that you have to work hard to achieve things and that you have to cherish playing every day as it could be taken away from you at any point. Apart from the joy your family brings it doesn’t get better than playing in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley with your mates.”