Hull KR v Wigan Warriors: Jez Litten out to show how far he has come on Doncaster return

As he arrived at the Eco-Power Stadium for Tuesday's press event, Jez Litten was enthusiastically greeted by Doncaster supremo Carl Hall.

Fans may struggle to recall Litten's loan spells at the Dons but Hall has certainly not forgotten his impact in League 1.

Litten has gone on to become Hull KR's number one hooker and even earned England honours last year.

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A boy in rugby league terms when he played at the Eco-Power Stadium between 2017 and 2019, Litten returns this week as a man.

"My time at Donny really toughened me up as a young kid playing against men," he said ahead of today's Challenge Cup semi-final against Wigan Warriors.

"It gave me a lot of challenges. It was a tough competition and challenged me physically and mentally as well.

"To come through that has definitely played a part in me being the player I am at Hull KR today.

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"It's good to come back here. I've just been speaking to Carl who was buzzing about it so if we got the win here, it would be extra special."

Jez Litten is back at the Eco-Power Stadium this week. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/ Litten is back at the Eco-Power Stadium this week. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/
Jez Litten is back at the Eco-Power Stadium this week. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/

A victory in Doncaster would secure a return to Wembley for the Robins after they fell agonisingly short of a first major trophy since 1985 last year.

It was a bittersweet experience for Litten, a tryscorer in the 17-16 defeat to Leigh Leopards.

"It's a special feeling playing at Wembley," he said.

"I think something like that will live with you forever. To score at Wembley was unbelievable but I'd trade that try for the trophy.

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The hooker made his England debut last year. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/ hooker made his England debut last year. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/
The hooker made his England debut last year. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/

"To be 80 minutes away from doing that again is unbelievable – but we can't look too far ahead. We've got a massive challenge in Wigan on Saturday. That's the main focus for us."

Rovers were too good for the Warriors in Super League three weeks ago and beat Matt Peet's side at the same stage of the cup last year.

While Litten is not reading much into the previous semi-final, he takes heart from KR's recent record against Wigan.

"Every semi is different," he said.

Jez Litten goes over to score at Wembley. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/ Litten goes over to score at Wembley. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/
Jez Litten goes over to score at Wembley. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/

"We're coming up against a top team who won last year's Grand Final and beat Penrith at the start of this year.

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"But we proved a few weeks ago that we can beat them if we're at it. It's going to be a great occasion and I can't wait for it."

The Robins followed their Craven Park victory over the Warriors with another impressive showing against St Helens, only to come unstuck on the road at Warrington Wolves.

This week has been about reminding themselves that they can beat the heavyweights of the competition.

"We addressed what needed to be addressed and just want to get back to playing like we did in the previous games," added Litten.

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"We've had a massive game to look forward to so we've parked it and want to get back to being us.

"We know we can beat Wigan if we all play to our best abilities. We know we're up against a champion outfit who are going to be raring to go in a semi-final so we're going to have to be at our best if we're going to beat them."

Rovers kicked off semi-final week by announcing a new four-year contract for Willie Peters, his reward for taking the club to new heights.

As well as last year's trip to Wembley, Peters steered the Robins to a top-four finish in Super League, a feat they are well placed to match this season.

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Litten expects KR to go from strength to strength under the demanding Australian.

"You can see how far the club has come in the last couple of years and he's been a massive part of that," said Litten.

"We've got him here for a long time now so we can really build.

"We're a professional outfit now and have grown as players. He really challenges us all. Having those standards put on you every week can only be good for the players.

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"We're definitely going in the right direction. We've grown as a team even from last year when we had a great year.

"We've got to back it up on the pitch and keep growing."

Peters will be forced into two changes in Doncaster with Jack Brown and Jack Broadbent both cup-tied. They have been replaced in the 21-man squad by highly rated youngster Louix Gorman and hooker Reiss Butterworth

Tom Opacic is likely to take Broadbent’s place in the centres with Oliver Gildart out injured, while Sam Luckley could come in for Brown after missing the Warrington game with a wrist problem.

Rovers are also set to be boosted by the return of influential captain Elliot Minchella following a slight groin issue.

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