Chris Hill is understandably ready to go for Wembley this weekend – especially compared to how he forced himself to spend Wembley weekends in recent years.
The Wolves had almost made it tradition to be involved with the cup final in recent years, but a number of semi-final defeats – including the last two – ensured the Wolves had to watch the final from the comfort of their own living rooms of late.
Not Hill, though, who took drastic measures to get away from all the hype surrounding a Challenge Cup final – something he won’t have to do this weekend when he returns to Wembley with Warrington.
“Having not been there for a few years, it makes this even sweeter,” he admits.
“When you lose that semi-final this is a very lonely week believe me. When we’ve lost the semi in the last few years I’ve been down to my mum and dad’s caravan in Anglesey.
“There’s no phone signal down there and you shut yourselves off from the world. To be back there and have the chance to do this again is special: we’ll make the most of it.”
Hill may well have grown up a die-hard Wigan Warriors fan: but that won’t matter for a thing this weekend when he gets the opportunity to do something only a handful of players have ever had to do this weekend.
Hill is a Wembley winner of course, having won there in the past with the Wolves during the period when they were the competition’s dominant force around the start of this decade.
But now, four years on from Warrington’s last Wembley appearance, Hill has the honour of leading Tony Smith’s side out at the national stadium for this weekend’s Challenge Cup final against Hull: and with his family set to be by his side, the prop admits he couldn’t be prouder.
“It’s going to be a massive occasion,” he told TotalRL.
“I’ll have my eldest lad at the side of me as I lead the lads out and it’ll be a memorable moment for me and all my family. I’m honoured, I really am.
“You never completely think about captaining at Wembley; it’s probably a step too far. I’m quite young at 28 and hopefully there’s a few more opportunities like this to come. My eldest is bouncing off the ceiling about it – he’ll get us all motivated for it.
“I used to watch and travel down to Wembley a lot as a kid. Living in Wigan it was almost like part of growing up really in the town, to get involved with the buzz of the competition.
“They were the glory years and the one that sticks out most is when they got beat by Sheffield, that massive upset. There’s something about this competition; everyone across the M62 stops for that Saturday afternoon and it’s what makes it special.
“The Aussies know how special this is and there’s nothing like it in the world for me. It’s only good for our game and to be one of the small group who will walk out there Saturday is immense.”
The final is being talked up as potentially one of the best in years – and Hill admits he can see why there is so much hype attached to the game.
He said: “Everyone’s looking at the table and as a neutral I imagine it’ll be great.
“The hype has been pretty special right up to this point and I think that will help lift the profile of the sport. First versus second, there hasn’t been that for a good few years and it should be a cracker.”