Ryan Hall says Leeds Rhinos want to reach the Challenge Cup final “like never before.”
Considering since their 1999 victory, they lost in all six appearances before at last regaining their winning touch in 2014, it says plenty about their desire.
Leeds, who also prospered in 2015, face holders Hull FC in tomorrow’s semi-final and the England star is relishing the duel.
“Hull are a very good side and we’re taking them very seriously,” said the England winger.
“But we want to get to Wembley like never before. A lot of people are saying because of last year we want to prove people wrong.
“But it’s because of the journey of last year – when we felt so bad about ourselves – that it would be so good for this group if we achieved some sort of success.
But we want to get to Wembley like never before. A lot of people are saying because of last year we want to prove people wrong.Leeds Rhinos’ Ryan Hall
“Getting to Wembley and hopefully winning it would be quite an achievement from where we were. We won it in 2014 and 2015 and want that taste again.”
Leeds, of course, were embroiled in a relegation battle last season, just 12 months after winning the treble, but they are up to second in Super League now and back to their old selves.
Hall faces Mahe Fonua, the powerful Tonga international who scored in Hull’s 12-10 final win over Warrington Wolves last year and earned Dream Team status. Hall said: “He’s been playing really well.
“Every time Hull seem to play well he’s a big part of it. But we’ve done our homework on him and we’ve played him plenty of times now.”
Hall, 29, is one of up to 10 Leeds players who could return to action tomorrow after coach Brian McDermott predictably brings people back for the crunch fixture.
His initial 19-man squad includes eight who were not risked in last Friday’s 34-0 defeat at Wigan Warriors, plus Liam Sutcliffe (hamstring) and Brett Ferres (knee) who could make surprise appearances.
Hall was out with concussion while captain Danny McGuire, Joel Moon, Matt Parcell, Kallum Watkins, Adam Cuthbertson, Stevie Ward and Brad Singleton are all recalled with the likes of Jack Walker, Jack Ormondroyd and Jordan Baldwinson dropping out.