Kells Head Coach Peter Smith is under no illusions of the task facing his team when they come head to head with Championship side Toronto Wolfpack next Friday, March 16 (KO 6.15pm) in the fourth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.
Based in Cumbria, the National Conference League Premier Division side are one of only three community teams remaining in this year’s competition, and Smith says they’re relishing the occasion, facing one of the most exciting teams in the competition at this stage.
“It’s an honour to be in the Challenge Cup and to get to fourth round,” Smith said. “We reached the fourth round a few years ago and came up against Oldham then. It’s a tough ask because you’re coming up against semi-professional teams that are a lot stronger, bigger and faster than yourselves.
“It isn’t very often teams like us get through to the fourth round and get to play teams like Toronto. Playing them is the next best thing to playing a Super League side. We know we’re up against it but we’re just looking to compete.
Toronto Wolfpack Head Coach Paul Rowley looks ahead to the Pack’s @TheChallengeCup Round 4 tie against @kells_arl on Friday 16th March.— Toronto Wolfpack (@TOwolfpack) March 7, 2018
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“It’s going to be a lot quicker than we’re used but we will see what comes of it and make a good show of ourselves. We want to enjoy the game and give Toronto some kind of competition.
“He’ll (Paul Rowley) have his lads prepared. Last year they played Siddal on a very small field, he’ll have done his homework.
“Toronto are going to be bigger, faster and stronger but we’re just pleased to be in this stage of the competition and we’ll embrace the game and the event.”
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Kells’ other notable Challenge Cup season when, they faced one of the most famous clubs in England, Leeds.
The Cumbrians were defeated 0-28 that year but the fascinating fixture drew a huge crowd and Smith is hoping the locals in Whitehaven once again come out in their droves to support their local side on Friday, in a tie which oozes the feeling of the magic of the cup.
He said: “When we played Leeds years ago in 1988 and we drew a big ground down to the Recreation ground and this game is of similar level and what we’re going to do and go against them.
“We had about 5000 people in the crowd which is probably unheard of nowadays, hopefully we’ll get a big crowd and the lads can feed off that enthusiasm. It’s a special one-off game and we’re looking to embrace it and take it in our stride and see what we can do.
“I think ties like this are what the Challenge Cup is all about, when you enter this competition you’re looking forward to like this. Whitehaven would have been great and Toronto is the next best thing.”
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