Rugby League - Wane ready to relish Wembley moment

Shaun Wane did not even keep his winner's medal after Wigan's epic victory over Hull in the classic 1985 Challenge Cup final.

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Rugby League - Wane ready to relish Wembley moment
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Shaun Wane signed a new one-year deal at Wigan on Wednesday

The prop missed the chance to represent his hometown club at Wembley, in what has become the most celebrated of all finals, because of a knee injury.

He could only watch as the Cherry and Whites repelled a stirring Hull fightback to emerge 28-24 winners and claim their first Challenge Cup in 20 years.

Wane, who is now the club's head coach, said: "I played in every round but then I got injured in the semi-final and couldn't play. It was a great rugby league game, one of the best ever, but it was a bitter-sweet one for me.

"It was enjoyable as a game but I did feel a bit sorry for myself. I really wanted to play, it was really important to me. I got a medal but I didn't want to keep it because I didn't think I'd earned it. I gave it them back. It was a tough one to handle.

"Fortunately I played a few years later, against Halifax in 1988. I did get to play at Wembley but I wanted to play there a few more times."

Wane, 48, is now determined to make the most of the occasion as Wigan return to the national stadium for this year's final against Hull on Saturday. After spells at Leeds and Workington later in his playing career, Wane turned to coaching and has risen through the ranks back at Wigan.

He progressed from junior level and was assistant to Michael Maguire when the club last won the cup two years ago. He then succeeded the Australian in the hotseat at the start of last season.

Under his charge the Warriors finished top of Super League at the end of the regular season in 2012 as well as reaching the Challenge Cup semi-finals. They are now looking to better that by winning silverware and the pride Wane feels at having the opportunity to do that at Wembley is unmistakable.

He said: "Coaching the first team was an ambition but I never thought I would do it. I never thought I would get the chance to lead the club out at Wembley. It is a great achievement for me but I just enjoy coaching.

"I enjoy making players better players and better people. I am going to enjoy it. It is a huge occasion for me to lead my hometown club. I have been involved with the club for over 20 years now and to be given the chance to lead the club out in a Challenge Cup final is immense.

"It has got the makings of a fantastic weekend but it will only be enjoyable if we get the chance to win the cup."

The match is also sure to have added poignancy for Wane after the death of his father earlier in the year, and the rest of his family will be in attendance.

Wane had been linked with a position at the New Zealand Warriors but the announcement this week that he has taken up the option of an extra year on his contract has ended that speculation. He is highly regarded by his squad, particularly those he has helped nurture through the system in his previous roles.

One of them, the club's current star player Sam Tomkins - who has also been linked with New Zealand - believes cup success would be perfect reward for the coach.

He said: "I think he deserves it more than anyone. He has been a player at Wigan for many years and won trophies, he has put the graft in coaching and worked his way up to have the main job. For him to pick a trophy up would be fantastic."

To do that, however, Wigan will need to arrest a recent poor run of form that has seen them win only two of their last seven Super League games.

Wane said: "It is about the team that performs on the day. I know we have got some real talent in our team. Our performances have been scratchy the last few weeks while Hull have hit their straps.

"They are a very good team. I am under no illusions that we have got a real challenge. But Hull have got a challenge as well. We will be performing well and fighting like hell to make sure we win the cup."

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