Tigers’ Wheeldon hoping to avoid hat-trick of final snubs

Scott Wheeldon.
Scott Wheeldon.
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AT the third attempt, Castleford Tigers prop Scott Wheeldon is desperately hoping to be given the nod for a Challenge Cup final.

Daryl Powell will name his 19-man squad this afternoon in readiness for Saturday’s Wembley affair versus Leeds Rhinos.

Those who are actually playing are likely to be informed, too, meaning it is a nervous time for Wheeldon. The ex-Hull KR front-row has played 21 times this season since joining from London Broncos, more often from the bench, and has been selected in each of the last four games.

But he knows competition is tough and said: “I had experience being in Hull FC’s 2005 squad when they won in Cardiff.

“It was my first year of full-time contract so I didn’t play – (Castleford team-mate) Kirk Dixon was the same – but to have the experience of a big stadium and big occasion was great.

“But I was in the 20-man squad with Hull FC again in 2008 and was left disappointed then.

“I didn’t play but I did feel I was ready to play in that one.

“I was in the 2006 Grand Final against Saints though so hopefully that will hold me in good stead and I’ve done enough.”

Wheeldon, part of the London side embarrassed 70-0 by Wigan Warriors in last season’s Challenge Cup semi-final, has impressed this term having admitted he was worried he may not find another Super League club.

“It was pretty bleak last year,” he said. “We were getting beat every week with London, there was speculation about the club and they were worrying times.

“I was at the bottom of the league and was thinking ‘Where can I go?’ But luckily enough Daryl saw something in my game and brought me in on a two-year deal.

“He’s instilled confidence back into my game.

“He likes the forwards to play a little bit of rugby, he likes to see offloads, tip-ons and the forwards playing with the ball, and that’s something he really focuses on,” he added.

“It’s been a fantastic year for us with Cas’ but, to be honest, it hasn’t been a surprise to us; we knew from pre-season we had something special here given the way everyone worked so hard.”

Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane stadium will host a replay on Wednesday, September 3, if Saturday’s final finishes all square after 80 minutes.

Hull FC captain Gareth Ellis has signed a one year extension to keep the ex-England second-row there until the end of 2016.