Rugby League

Challenge Cup

16 May 2024

Hull KR’s Joe Burgess believes in a Wembley return | Betfred Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

Hull KR’s Joe Burgess believes in a Wembley return | Betfred Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

With the first of the Betfred Challenge Cup semi-finals on Saturday, Hull KR’s Joe Burgess is hoping the Robins can reach the big stage for a second successive year.

Just 80 minutes from Wembley, a win would also mean a second final appearance for Burgess, having played in 2017’s Challenge Cup Final defeat with his former club Wigan Warriors.

But before Hull KR can even begin to dream about Wembley once more, they will have to overcome the current Super League and World Champions at the Eco-Power Stadium in Saturday's semi-final.

The cup history between the two sides is tasty to say the least, with the Robins recently responsible for dethroning the Warriors in 2023 – by beating them 11-10 in last year’s thrilling semi-final.

And although Burgess wasn’t a part of Willie Peters’ squad back then, he certainly is in 2024, and feels optimistic about the future of the club:

“I just think how close we [Hull KR] came to it last year,” Burgess said, who signed from Salford Red Devils at the start of the year.

“I hope to think myself and the new signings have really added to the squad this year. There’s a good sense of confidence at the minute within the playing group.”

Hull KR come into this game currently occupying fifth place in the Betfred Super League, but suffered a disappointing defeat against Warrington in the latest round. Despite this, Burgess has insisted it will be a completely different ball game in Saturday’s semi-final clash:

“It wasn’t the best result for us last Thursday but it’s a separate competition this week - you go through or you go home and you’re watching the Challenge Cup Final in your front room instead.

“I think because they [Hull KR] came so close to winning the final last year, a lot of the boys are chomping at the bit to get over and pick up a winner’s medal – and so am I.”




Burgess has been having a brilliant start to the season with the Robins - a side who have become renowned for their eye-catching attack in recent weeks, and the 29-year-old flier has admitted that he’s thoroughly enjoying his time over in East Hull:

“I’ve been loving it," said Burgess. "It’s a nice change of scenery and the move has turned out great. I’m enjoying playing rugby again and I’m up here with my best mate Oliver Gildart who I went to school with and played with at Wigan.

“They’re all a good set of lads here and everyone is really easy to get along with.

“It always makes life easier on the pitch when it’s good off the pitch.”

Hull KR are a surprise package of 2024 and have captured the attention of the Rugby League fandom with their entertaining style of play and team spirit. They recently beat current Champions Wigan and former Champions St Helens back-to-back in Super League after two majestic performances on home soil. 

In the Challenge Cup, they demolished a sorry Salford Red Devils 40-0 in the Sixth Round, before beating current holders Leigh Leopards in the quarter-final stages.




Burgess has scored three tries throughout the Robins’ cup journey in 2024 and will be hoping to add to his tally when he goes up against his old club this weekend.

He was also awarded Player of the Match in Hull KR and Leigh's televised quarter-final tie for his perfect performance and recalled the past month as his favourite in a Robins shirt so far:

“These past few weeks have stood out with beating two of the top teams in Wigan and Saints. I know we’ve lost against Warrington and Catalans along the way, but we’ve shown we can still knock off the two top sides.

“I don’t think it’s ever been as close between the teams. It was close last year and it’s just getting even closer. It’s good for a neutral viewer and it’s good for us because that’s the reason we play – it’s all about the competition.”

As Willie Peters' men prepare to face Wigan on Saturday having overturned them just three weeks ago, Burgess knows their opponents will be fiercely seeking retribution and that they shouldn’t underestimate the capability of the Champions on neutral territory:

“We beat them and I think it upset them quite a bit. They will have a bit of confidence from last week beating Huddersfield, but this is a separate competition and it’s going to be a battle.

“We’ll keep everything the same during the week.”

With a firm focus on the Challenge Cup, Hull KR will be hoping to reiterate a similar result of last year's semi-final. And Burgess, who was a try-scorer on the losing side in 2017's Final, is full of empathy when it comes to Challenge Cup heartbreak:

“We’ve not really spoken about it but I think we all know how much it means deep down and the prize at the end of this journey.

“Nobody’s really mentioned last year, but I know deep down that it really hurt a lot of the lads and I’ve been in that situation before – I got beat by Hull FC in 2017 at Wembley.




“Nobody wants that feeling again so we’re just raring to go.”

“It’s a massive thing for us - we want to be able to do it for the fans and all of the people involved within the club. This includes the backroom staff - they want to get the win as much as us – our kit man Bonesy for example, and he does so much for the club.

"It’s people like him you want to do it for, as well as ourselves.”

With another Wembley outing almost within touching distance, Burgess reflected on his first time playing at the legendary venue in 2017:

“I went to Wembley when I was younger as a fan, but actually playing there is something else. I remember my first carry when I took it in - I almost hyperventilated because I was so nervous. I took one run in and was already blowing; I couldn’t believe it.

“I didn’t know what was happening to me. As much as I don’t want that feeling again, I absolutely do.

“It’s a good nerve to have, it’s a good thrill.”

The speedster also has plenty of final experience - both Challenge Cup and Super League Grand Final knowledge combined - but Burgess doesn’t think it will come down to experience on the day:

“I don’t think experience comes into these games if I’m honest - I think it’s whoever tries hardest. Everyone will be on the same level because everyone wants that same goal.

“I’ve never actually played in a final and won one professionally, so I’m chomping at the bit to get that one.”

“There’s an exciting few years ahead of me and the club for sure. I’m looking forward to playing with these boys for a good few years and the goal is to get as much silverware and be as successful as possible.

“We want to win it."


Expect the Unexpected in the Betfred Challenge Cup!


Watch Hull KR v Wigan Warriors' Semi-Final on Saturday 18 May, live on BBC One (K.O. 1:45pm).


A full Betfred Challenge Cup Semi-Finals Preview can be found here.


The Men's 2024 Betfred Challenge Cup Final (KO 3pm) is part of a Finals Day triple-header at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 8 June, alongside the finals of the Betfred Women's Challenge Cup (KO 11.45am) and the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup (KO 5.45pm). Plus, there will be the traditional Year 7 Boys’ Champion Schools Final at 10am. Tickets are available online now from only £20 Adults and £10 Under 16s, with family packages also available.