Shaun Lunt takes on Bradford Bulls tonight relieved to know his Wembley dream is still alive.
Reaching a Challenge Cup final is, for many players, a career highlight which, understandably, is usually met by pure jubilation.
So, having taken part in Saturday’s truly heroic semi-final win over Wigan Warriors, when Leeds Rhinos simply ignored odds of 1-3 to stun the holders, you would imagine hooker Lunt to be ecstatic.
However, his situation was slightly different to his colleagues.
Lunt is on a season-long loan from Huddersfield Giants, who were due to play in the other semi-final against Warrington Wolves the following evening.
As part of the terms agreed when Leeds captured the former England international in April, it was stated he would not be able to play against his parent club and so he found himself with a severe conflict of interests.
“It was quite surreal,” Lunt told the Yorkshire Post. “I was really happy when we got through against Wigan but, at the same time, I knew there’d be a chance I wouldn’t be playing at Wembley.
“I just thought I had to calm my emotions for the time being.
“I didn’t actually watch the Huddersfield semi. I was back in Cumbria visiting my aunt in hospital but when I heard they’d lost I was really relieved. I’d have been gutted to miss out on the Challenge Cup final.
“At the same time, though, I’d have been happy for the Huddersfield boys as I’ve still got a lot of friends there. It was a strange position to be in.”
Lunt, ever-present since his switch, insists Leeds will not be taking their eye off Super League.
They are looking for a sixth successive win tonight as they continue their revival following an alarming mid-season slump.
“We’re in fifth now and have got to keep winning and progressing like we have been doing,” he added, clearly impressed by the famous Rhinos spirit.
“When we went through that bad patch, there was no squabbling and nobody pointing fingers at anyone,” he added.
“We all just stuck together and said we had to work it out. I can’t believe what a great bunch of lads they are.
“It’s awful what’s happened at Bradford and I’m hoping their situation can be sorted, too, but we have to keep on winning.”