THE Olympic dream will come to Leeds next week when two of Great Britain’s medal hopes for the London Games will conduct the draw for the fifth round of the Carnegie Challenge Cup.
And the Giants will be hoping their Challenge Cup dream is still alive and they are part of that draw after winning at Hull tomorrow.
Race-walker and Commonwealth gold medalist Johanna Jackson, and Louis Speight, a wheelchair sprinter and World No2 at 100m-800m, will draw the home and away teams in the last 16 of the world’s oldest and most prestigious Rugby League competition.
The draw takes place on Monday (April 16) at 3.00pm when the world class theme will be reflected in the magnificent setting of Leeds Metropolitan University’s Broadcasting Place.
Johanna and Louis are students at the university, title sponsors of the Carnegie Challenge Cup, and both train at the Carnegie Faculty.
Broadcasting Place hosts the faculty of Arts, Environment and Technology at Leeds Metropolitan University and was the recipient of the Best Tall Building in the World award by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.
The Cup action got underway last night, with Leeds Rhinos beating Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 38-18 at Headingley.
Today, a lot of the attention will focus on another all-Super League tie between Widnes and St Helens at the Stobart Stadium when Vikings coach Denis Betts is hoping the magic of the Challenge Cup can help transform his club’s fortunes.
Widnes are bottom of Super League with just two wins from their first 11 games and, fresh from conceding 84 points in two games over Easter, their troubles took another turn with the axing of former Giants hooker Scott Moore.
“After such a tough Easter period, it’s just a short turnaround and you’ve got some very tired bodies,” Betts said.
“Maybe you’d like a little bit more time and preparation to build up and get the focus right.
“But, if anything, the Challenge Cup gives you another focus so you can energise people with the change in focus.”
The Widnes-St Helens clash, which is being shown on the BBC, is one of four all-Super League ties this weekend and Castleford coach Ian Millward, who won the Cup twice with Saints, is hoping the guaranteed exit of so many big guns can help pave the way for the Tigers to go on a run.
Castleford lost to part-timers Barrow two years ago and face a tricky opening tie against Championship neighbours Featherstone at the Bigfellas Stadium, but they will be boosted by the return of six first-team regulars, including Man of Steel Rangi Chase.
“I’m a big fan of the Challenge Cup,” Millward said. “I’d like to see us go well.
“It’s a great opportunity for the club because, if you look at the draw, we’re going to have four Super League teams going out and quite a few non-Super League teams are playing each other.
“It’s very important to get through to the next stage. There’s a huge possibility we could get an easier draw than Featherstone.
“We understand Featherstone are very good professional outfit and they’ve got a fantastic record at home.”
The derby, which will be Sky Sports’ first live televised Cup tie, will be Castleford’s first meeting with Rovers since beating them 22-16 in a Northern Rail Cup match in 2007.
Featherstone have been the top team in the Championship over the past two years but they suffered a surprise 60-40 home defeat by Sheffield Eagles last Saturday.
There are two all-Championship ties today, with Swinton hosting Gateshead at Leigh Sports Village and South Wales Scorpions taking on Halifax at the Shay, having switched the match from the Gnoll.