Legendary Malcolm Reilly says he was “thrilled” to be asked to present the Tetley’s Challenge Cup to the victors of tomorrow’s final between two of his former clubs – Castleford and Leeds.
Reilly, who hails from Castleford, is rated as one of the sport’s finest players and coaches, too, following a distinguished career in the game.
He won the Challenge Cup with his home-town club as a 21-year-old in 1969 – also claiming the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match against Salford – and again the following year when they defeated Wigan.
A formidable loose forward, Reilly was a member of the Great Britain Lions team that won the Ashes in 1970 and starred with Australian club Manly Sea Eagles before returning to Castleford and coaching them to their last Challenge Cup glory in 1986.
Reilly, 66, coached Great Britain from 1987 to 1994 and was in charge of Leeds when they defeated Castleford in the 1988 Yorkshire Cup final. He later led Newcastle Knights to their maiden Australian Grand Final success in 1997 and, so, is equally revered Down Under.
Reilly is chief guest at Wembley, welcoming players from Castleford and Leeds before kick-off and, after watching the showpiece from the Royal Box, will hand over the famous trophy.
He said: “I was thrilled to receive this invitation. It’s a real honour to attend and I still have many close friends at both clubs.
“It is going to be a great game with plenty of outstanding players on display.”
Rugby Football League chief executive Nigel Wood said: “With his strong connections to both clubs and proud record in rugby league’s oldest and most prestigious knockout competition, Malcolm is a true Challenge Cup great.”
See tomorrow’s The Yorkshire Post for Saturday Interview with Malcolm Reilly