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Grounded Brad Dwyer out to secure Wembley final spot with Leeds Rhinos

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“Yeah, it was that 52nd tackle or something wasn’t it?”

Leeds Rhinos’ Brad Dwyer recalls the painful moment his hopes of winning the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup were dashed.

I'M YOUR MAN: Leeds Rhinos' Brad Dwyer is determined to get back to Wembley in the Challenge Cup Final.  Picture: Bruce Rollinson

I'M YOUR MAN: Leeds Rhinos' Brad Dwyer is determined to get back to Wembley in the Challenge Cup Final. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Playing with Warrington Wolves in the 2016 final at Wembley, he watched on as team-mate Ben Currie poked through to surely score the try that would win them the famous trophy.

Everyone, however, knows what happened next as Danny Houghton, the tireless Airlie Birds hooker, produced a desperate, last-ditch attempt to deny the Wire second-row, doing just enough to force the ball clear inches short.

Remarkably, it was the 52nd tackle Houghton had made that afternoon and clearly the most important of his career given it meant his hometown club held on to finally deliver their first-ever win at Wembley.

Indeed, such was its magnitude, they even named a beer after the incredible moment as part of the Hull star’s testimonial season.

The thing is with rugby you can’t look ahead. You never know what will happen; it can look like the end of the world and then something happens and you’ll be flying again.

Leeds Rhinos’ Brad Dwyer

All of which means nothing now, though, to his fellow hooker Dwyer, who hopes to return to Wembley with Leeds by winning Sunday’s Challenge Cup semi-final, ironically against his former club Warrington.

“I don’t think everyone realized just how close it was,” he said, when asked what Currie’s reaction was at the time.

“Still now, you watch it back and go ‘“wow...”

“It was that close. It was really hot, had been a tough game and you’re just doing whatever you can to win at that point.

DANGER MAN: Warrington's Daryl Clark. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

DANGER MAN: Warrington's Daryl Clark. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

“It wasn’t until afterwards when you’re having your interviews and people tell you just how close it was that you realise.

“Things happen for a reason, though. There’s nothing I can do about that now.

“But part of me wants to put it right with Leeds this year and I’m really keen to get that chance.

“It just adds a bit of extra spice being Warrington now in our way.”

Perhaps even more intriguing is the fact, just a few weeks ago, Dwyer was playing with part-timers Featherstone Rovers as he could not even get a game with Rhinos, the club he joined ahead of the campaign.

Dwyer started the season under Brian McDermott and played in the World Club Challenge in Melbourne in February.

However, by the time the head coach was sacked last month, the 25-year-old had only made a dozen appearances.

New boss Kevin Sinfield, though, has brought him in from the cold and, not only selected the player but started him in their last three games.

Asked if he thought his chance to feature may have gone, Dwyer insisted: “I am used to dual-registration now and how it works.

“The thing is with rugby you can’t look ahead.

“You never know what will happen; it can look like the end of the world and then something happens and you’ll be flying again.

“And that is what has happened. Even now when I’ve had a good couple of weeks playing, that can soon change.

“You have to stay grounded and on the medium whether bad or good, see what comes and prepare each week to the best you can and try and deliver.”

A sprightly dummy-half operator, Dwyer arrived at Headingley on a two-year deal striving for the chance to further develop his game having spent much of his time at Warrington coming on as a replacement.

He has forced Dream Team hooker Matt Parcell onto the bench of late but said: “It’s never really been an issue for me whether I started or not.

“It was all about getting an opportunity and whether that was 20 minutes off the bench or from the start it didn’t really matter.

“But I’m not going to lie – I have enjoyed starting and it’s added another string to my bow. I think it has suited me but as long as I get some game-time, that’s the main thing, and then it’s what I do with it.

“If I’m not impressing or doing my job then I’m not going to get any game-time in either role.

“But I’m enjoying my rugby again and that brings the best out of me. Hopefully it can continue.”

Struggling Leeds are, of course, underdogs going into Sunday’s game at Bolton’s Macron Stadium given they have toiled this term and ended up in the Qualifiers for the second time in three years.

If they are to spring a surprise, they must nullify Daryl Clark, the England hooker who Dwyer worked with last year and is reproducing the sort of dazzling form that saw him earn Man of Steel when with Castleford Tigers in 2014.

Dwyer admitted: “He’s great. When he’s at his best he’s probably one of the best in the comp’ given some of the stuff he can do.

“But for us it’s about slowing that ruck down to try and limit what he can do and the opportunities he gets rather than trying to actually stop him.

“It’s the plays before to try and slow the rucks so he can’t run. We just have to tighten up and we have to be ready for that.”