Nearing his 32nd birthday, Leeds Rhinos’ Brett Ferres at last gets to play a first major final tonight but there will be no nerves present – he hasn’t had them since the age of 12.
The England second-row faces hometown Castleford Tigers at Old Trafford desperate for success.
He didn’t make the cut for Bradford Bulls when – still just 19 – they beat Leeds in 2005.
Ferres joined Wakefield Trinity the following year and has had stints with Castleford and Huddersfield Giants before joining Rhinos in a £100,000 deal at the start of last season.
Asked if there would be any nerves tonight, he revealed: “I’ve only been nervous once before a game.
“That was when I was about 12 playing for Cas’ and District against Hull at Lock Lane.
It’s now 14 years I’ve been playing and I’m finally in a first major final which is really pleasing.Brett Ferres
“My dad told me some scouts were coming to watch – and I went on to have a shocker, my worst game ever!
“Since then I’ve always coped fine. It’s just another day. Just another game. Just another field we’re going out on. I’m looking forward to it, though. It’s been a long time since I signed for Bradford all those years ago.
“I thought I’d be challenging for trophies every year with that side but it wasn’t meant to be. It’s now 14 years I’ve been playing and I’m finally in a first major final which is really pleasing.”
League Leaders’ Shield winners Castleford have beaten Leeds in all four meetings this season.
Ferres said: “They are a very good side but there’s certainly bits in their game we can exploit. In previous games there’s been a few times where we’ve gone a little bit against what we should have been doing and it’s cost us.
“But there are bits we can put together and if we do that Saturday we know we can win.
“We’re not too shabby ourselves going in. Living in Cas, every time I’m walking around Asda, their fans think they’ve already won it. But the pressure is on them now.”