FOR the first time in a year, there is something rather notable missing from Marc Sneyd’s dining room – but perhaps maybe for a few weeks only.
The Hull FC scrum-half has had to return the Lance Todd Trophy, the prestigious award for the Challenge Cup final man of the match – to the RFL ahead of Saturday’s 2017 showpiece.
Fortunately for Sneyd, who claimed it in the Airlie Birds’ famous victory over Warrington Wolves 12 months ago, Hull are at Wembley again, this time to face Wigan Warriors, so he could yet be taking it back home.
Indeed, the prolific goalkicker is 6-1 joint-favourite to do so alonside Wigan’s dynamic England stand-off George Williams.
However, since its inception in 1946, plenty of players have won the award twice, but no one has won it outright in consecutive years.
Paul Wellens came closest, the Great Britain full-back taking it for his stellar performance in the 2008 Challenge Cup final, ironically against Hull, but he had only shared it the previous season with Leon Pryce, the stylish stand-off who was a recent Black and Whites colleague of Sneyd’s.
Such minutiae means little to Sneyd, though, given all he is centred on is lifting the actual Cup again.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, the 26-year-old said: “It (the trophy) was in my dining room until I had to give it back this week.
“They needed to get it all sorted for Saturday. Hopefully I can win it again.
“Obviously I won’t be going into the game really hoping I do, but if it happens, it happens. I’d be happier if we won the Cup and one of my mates won the Lance Todd instead, to be honest.”
I’d be happier if we won the Cup and one of my mates won the Lance Todd instead, to be honest.Hull FC’s Marc Sneyd
After all the drama of last year, when Hull finally did win the Challenge Cup at Wembley for the first time in their history, it would be easy to presume there will be less pressure on Lee Radford’s side this time around.
Sneyd, who was also a beaten finalist with Castleford Tigers in 2014, is famously laid-back anyway so he should be fine.
But will his side be able to enjoy the occasion a little more come Saturday now that burden of history – they had endured eight successive Wembley failures – is no longer weighing down on them?
“There’ll be a few people who will be a little bit more relaxed after last year,” he added.
“I’ll feel pretty much the same as back then, though; I’m absolutely excited like mad to get into it again. This is the reason you play rugby – to play at Wembley and play in the big games.
“So I’ll be going exactly the same with the same nervousness the usual 10 minutes beforehand, but I’ll be staying as relaxed as I possibly can all week. The rest of the boys should be alright I think.
“Last year’s final was a real nitty gritty affair, but it was a good one. In the end it ended up a very good final and I can’t see this weekend’s being much different.”
Wigan, the most successful team in Challenge Cup history, have endured a difficult season at times, but are now threatening to finish in style having lost just once in their last eight outings.
Shaun Wane’s side were tipped to miss out on the top four after starting the Super 8s in seventh spot, but they vanquished Salford Red Devils 42-6 on Friday and are now just one point adrift of Wakefield in the semi-final berths.
“They have that potential – Wigan are Wigan,” said Sneyd, about a side including England stars Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Tomkins, John Bateman and Williams.
“People wrote them off at the start of the year as they had a few bad results and stuff.
“You can never do that with Wigan. They are coming good at the end of the year and, obviously, they’re in this final. You can’t write them off.
“You always know what you’re going to get from them. It’s whether we turn up with the right attitude to deal with that. I think we will.”
Hull have beaten Wigan both times they have met this season although they will have paniful memories of the 2013 final when they lost 16-0 against the Cherry and Whites.
Furthermore, FC’s four-match winning run was ended by Huddersfield Giants, who thrashed them 46-18 at the KCOM Stadium on Friday.
But Sneyd insisted: “That was pretty much put to bed 15 minutes after the game.
“With Wembley week just around the corner it was obviously really disappointing the way we went about our business Friday.
“Games like that happen, though. We’ve swept it under the carpet. We’ve been in (yesterday morning), there’s a bounce around the place and the Wembley buzz is back.
“We’re as confident as ever, smiles on faces and really happy.”