Josh Charnley eyes Challenge Cup history with Leigh Leopards after contemplating retirement

JOSH CHARNLEY is set to play in his fifth Challenge Cup Final.

And this one will be extra special, not just because the winger could become the first player in the Super League era to win the Cup with three clubs, following his previous successes with Wigan Warriors (2011 and 2013) and Warrington Wolves (2019).

And not only because he’s doing it in the colours of Leigh Leopards, who are gunning for just a third ever triumph in the competition and are far from perennial trophy-hunters.

It’s also because a little over a year ago Charnley, out-of-favour at Warrington under the recently-departed Daryl Powell (he was far from the only one, and several others are now also part of this high-flying Leigh team) and out of love with the game, was on the verge of quitting.

But now, not only is the 32-year-old still playing, but he’s also currently in some of the best form of his life. Ahead of the Leopards’ pre-Wembley meeting with Leeds Rhinos, he had 22 tries to his name in Super League, plus a further three in their Challenge Cup run.

“I was ready to pack it in at Warrington,” said Charnley, who joined Leigh on loan last summer and helped the club to promotion from the Championship.

“I was just glad to play again and to enjoy playing. As soon as I spoke to Lammy (head coach Adrian Lam) and Chezzy (director of rugby Chris Chester), I wanted to come.

“It’s not been a surprise (how we’ve performed this year) because we signed a lot of experience.

“We’ve just got a great team bond. We’ve gelled really well. Everyone has stepped up and everyone is playing well. Lammy has brought everyone together.

“It’s always special (to go to Wembley), but I think it means more to do it with these guys, and for the club – they’ve not been for more than 50 years.”

Charnley insists he isn’t fussed about his Super League top try-scorer race with Tom Johnstone. Instead, moments like this week’s Challenge Cup Final are what it’s all about.

“My family keep an eye on it, but I’m not too bothered. I know I’m already third on the (all-time) Super League scorers and I’m happy with that. 

“But what means more to me is having great moments and winning trophies.”