Hull FC coach Lee Radford has insisted that he will be bringing up the club’s heartbreaking 2013 final loss to Wigan as they prepare to return to Wembley this weekend.
The Black and Whites head to the capital looking to finally end their hoodoo with the national stadium, winning there for the first time on the ninth attempt.
And after their last performance in the final, a 16-0 defeat to Wigan in what many consider to be one of the most underwhelming finals in the sport’s history, Radford has said it is well worth bringing up again.
“I think it’s worth mentioning,” he said.
“If there were adverts for how not to tackle a Challenge Cup final, that was us then. It’s voted the worst final in the history of the competition and that was a dark day. It was about how not to do it; it was the epitome of playing the occasion rather than the team, because they weren’t crash-hot.
“It just never happened and some of the lads who were involved in that can use that experience and feed off that. I’m certainly going to highlight it to a couple of the lads who weren’t involved.”
Radford has also revealed he knows his team for the final, with that process involving informing the players who have missed out on selection: something the Hull coach has been on the receiving end of during his own playing career.
He failed to make Bradford’s squads for the 2000 and 2001 finals, and having had to endure the conversation as a coach this time around, he insisted it is the toughest moment of his coaching career to date.
“I’ve told the lads what the team will be,” he said. “It’s one of the most difficult conversations I’ve ever had to have with a player. I’ve been sat at the other end of that table twice and after that call everything else the coach says is a blur.
“I told them individually and tried to give them my reasons why but they pretty much fell on deaf ears as you’d expect. I hope I get another opportunity to select them in a final because I’ll sleep easier.
“I spoke to a couple of them prior to giving them the information. I found out a couple of interesting ways when I was left out but I tried to be as straight and honest with them as I could be. I’m sure it might get out before I’ve got to name a 19, it usually does in our part of the world.
“There’s huge disappointment when you miss out but when you look back and you get a bit older you question whether you did everything in your power to get selected. It’s one of the tough things you’ve got to do as a coach; I just hope the 17 I’ve picked warrant their place in the squad come Saturday afternoon.
“It’s the toughest thing I’ve had to do in my coaching career, and the toughest thing to be involved with. It’s been tougher to deal with than some of the bad losses we’ve endured down the years.
“I’ve been dreading it since our last game against Catalans, it’s not something that has sat well with me. The performances leading up to the Catalans game swayed my thinking but these blokes will have a vital role to play for the remainder of the season: hopefully after Sunday we’ll still be pushing for a treble.”