SCOTT MURRELL will try to threaten Hull KR’s Super League existence tomorrow, but in a fortnight he will be among thousands of fans at Wembley cheering them on.
The Halifax stand-off spent seven largely enjoyable years with the Robins, the Leeds-born stand-off endearing himself to their supporters just like he was one of their own.
Indeed, it is still a mystery to some how Craig Sandercock, the much-maligned Australian coach then in charge, showed him the door in 2012 when still only 27.
Murrell has since been playing part-time for Halifax, the Championship side who hope to rattle Super League Rovers tomorrow in their Qualifiers tie at his old stomping ground of Craven Park.
However, he cannot hide his delight that Hull KR have reached the Challenge Cup final for the first time since 1986.
They play Leeds on August 29 and Murrell, whose kicking game and organisational quality remains, told The Yorkshire Post: “I wasn’t going to go until KR got there. Then, obviously, I wanted to show my support for the club.
“I played the majority of my professional career there, they gave me the chance to play first-team football and they still have a big place in my heart.
“Obviously I’m from Leeds and actually still a Leeds season-ticket holder – one of my kids is a fan – so I have a bit of split loyalty there. But I’ll be cheering on Rovers.
“I’m going down with the wife. It’s my 30th the week after so we’re making a weekend of it.” Murrell hopes to be celebrating tomorrow, too, but knows his side must deliver a near-perfect performance to defeat his former employers, coached by his old Rovers team-mate Chris Chester.
Admittedly, Halifax, the lowest-ranked side in the Qualifiers having finished fourth in the Championship, demonstrated real tenacity and defensive quality in their opening game against Widnes Vikings on Sunday.
They gave Widnes, who only just missed out on the Super League play-offs, a real run for their money, the game remaining 0-0 until the visitors finally broke them early in the second period.
It was not until the last two minutes, however, that Widnes scored again, going over twice to end with a flattering 14-0 result.
Murrell, who started out in Leeds’s academy with the likes of Lee Smith, Nick Scruton, Peter Fox and Mark Calderwood, said: “It’s alright putting that sort of display in, but we have to back it up. I know we didn’t come away with anything and we let ourselves down a bit with those two tries in the last five minutes.
“But we competed really well against Widnes, weren’t fazed at all and enjoyed taking them on. We need to do the same at Rovers.”
The hosts, who beat Championship leaders Leigh Centurions a week ago, are without first-choice halves Terry Campese and Albert Kelly. But Murrell, who neared 200 games with Rovers, insisted: “Dane Chisholm’s been brought in and he’s a quality player while Maurice Blair has covered at half and done really well for them.
“Any side with Kieran Dixon at full-back is always going to be a threat, too. But I’m looking forward to going back.
“We were there for a friendly at the start of the year and the Rovers fans sang something about my weight so we’ll see what they say this time. I had some great years there, the best probably when we got promoted to Super League in 2006 having been out of the top flight for so long.
“They are fond memories. There’s only Kris Welham and Ben Cockayne still there from my time, I think, and Chessie, of course, who’s now head coach.
“He was old school, Chessie. When he was 17 or 18 at Wigan he’d come through with people like (ex-Great Britain prop) Kelvin Skerrett and he always talked about Kelvin. We shared a car from West Yorkshire and if I was not in the car within five minutes of training finishing I’d be getting left in Hull as that’s what Kelvin used to do with him at Wigan.
“Me, him, Liam Watts and Benny (Cockayne) would all get in together and they were happy days.
“But things will be different on Sunday. All I want is a win.”