Leeds Rhinos star firing for Wembley after Covid

IT was only last month that Brad Dwyer contracted Covid-19 but tomorrow he will line up for Leeds Rhinos in a Challenge Cup final.

The livewire hooker is looking forward to making the most of his chance against Salford Red Devils at Wembley, especially considering what he has been through in recent weeks.

"It has been difficult," Dwyer recalled to The Yorkshire Post.

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"It’s had an impact on the lungs. I was probably getting tired quicker in the first couple of games but I’m more or less back up to how I was before the Covid now.

"There is a bit of pain and neural stuff that I’d struggled with. The best way to explain it is I felt like I’d done 80 minutes and 50 tackles when, against Wigan (in the semi), I only did 20 minutes and a few tackles.

"There’s been some soreness after training and game but hopefully over that all now and won’t affect me in a Challenge Cup final, put it that way."

The fragility of the situation has been highlighted by Wembley opponents Salford who, this week, saw former England international Dan Sarginson contract the virus and heartbreakingly be forced to miss this showpiece occasion.

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Dwyer, 27, feels their plight and he admitted it was a "nervous" time for the Leeds players as they awaited their results earlier this week.

Leeds Rhinos' Brad Dwyer (SWPIX)Leeds Rhinos' Brad Dwyer (SWPIX)
Leeds Rhinos' Brad Dwyer (SWPIX)

Undoubtedly, there will be nerves of a different kind when all the players step out tomorrow to decide who takes home the prestigious trophy.

Dwyer featured in the 2016 Challenge Cup final but ended up on the losing side after his Warrington Wolves side fell to Hull FC.

That was the year of Danny Houghton's famous try-saving tackle on Ben Currie - the Hull captain's 52nd tackle of the game - which ultimately saw the Black and Whites hold on for victory.

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Asked about that dramatic moment, Dwyer recalled: "It's a strange one.

Leeds Rhinos coach Richard Agar chats with Brad Dwyer (SWPIX)Leeds Rhinos coach Richard Agar chats with Brad Dwyer (SWPIX)
Leeds Rhinos coach Richard Agar chats with Brad Dwyer (SWPIX)

"All my friends and family say about where they’re going to watch the game and their experiences of 2016 and it always sounds so great and you wish you could be a part of it.

"But you can’t be in two places at once: watching yourself at Wembley.

"But people are more aware of what’s going on as, in 2016, I was behind Ben when he got tackled and I didn’t really realise how close he was until after the game.

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"That was when all the interviews were coming out and people were saying ‘Tackle 52’ and he was actually over the line.

Brad Dwyer in action for Warrington Wolves against Hull FC in the 2016 Challenge Cup final.  (SWPIX)Brad Dwyer in action for Warrington Wolves against Hull FC in the 2016 Challenge Cup final.  (SWPIX)
Brad Dwyer in action for Warrington Wolves against Hull FC in the 2016 Challenge Cup final. (SWPIX)

"It wasn’t until a couple of days after when I saw the replay and saw how close we actually were. It still gets me now when I see it.

"In the moment, though, you're in the heat of the battle and you do what you have to do to win."

Dwyer moved on to Leeds at the end of the following season and Richard Agar - who was on the Warrington coaching staff - is now his boss at Headingley.

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Agar, who worked under head coach Tony Smith at Wolves, has helped turn around the club's fortunes after taking over following Dave Furner's sacking in May last year.

"It’s great working with Rich," said Dwyer.

" I’ve got a really good relationship with him. I got on with him at Warrington and we kept in touch when he left.

"He had a big influence on me coming to Leeds. He put my foot in the door really.

"I said to him last week how it’s strange how everything works out.

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"I remember at the end of our time at Warrington - we both left at the same time - and there was a lot of talk about who was going to coach them (after Smith's exit).

"I think Rich copped a lot of the blame from fans when Rich really stood up that last year and was really good as a coach.

"I had lot of respect for him for that They were on about bringing an Aussie in and Warrignton was unsure about whether Rich would stay and he said to me he wouldn’t mind a crack at it as he thought he could do it.

"A few years down the line he has ended up coaching again and what a job he’s done with us.

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"He’s been great. He’s just got the boys believing in each other, give us a reason to play for each other and he’s really down to earth.

"You can have a conversation with him and that’s all we want really.

"But everyone will agree he’s really grasped the Leeds way of playing over the years; he wants us to play a certain way - expansive and entertaining - and I think we have."

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