FORMER Giants coaches Tony Smith and John Kear return to familiar territory this weekend bidding for the chance to go head to head in the Challenge Cup final.

But while Smith's Leeds should have a relatively straightforward passage through their semi-final against surprise package Toulouse on Sunday (1.45), Kear's Hull look to have their work cut out in the first of the Galpharm's two big matches tomorrow (3.15).

Hull's opponents are St Helens, who beat the Giants 46-6 in the semi-finals at Warrington before winning the Cup last year.

And as if facing up to an in-form Saints side wasn't a tough enough prospect, Hull will have to do it without winger Nathan Blacklock and versatile Peter Lupton.

At least Chris Chester, Shaun Briscoe, Richie Barnett and Kirk Yeaman have all been passed fit, while Shayne McMenemy and Paul King return after being rested and Paul Cooke is back serving a suspension for his sending off against the Giants a fortnight ago (the red card was for a head butt on Brad Drew).

Third-placed Hull followed up their 34-24 Super League success against Huddersfield at the KC Stadium by winning 40-20 at Widnes last Sunday, and Kear, who bossed the Giants between October 1999 and July 2000, is optimistic he can pull off an upset.

"I feel comfortable with the squad that I've got for the game and I'm fully confident they will perform," said the man who guided Sheffield to an against-the-odds victory over Wigan in the 1998 final.

And Saints star Jon Wilkin insists Kiwi coach Daniel Anderson's team are taking nothing for granted.

"We are the favourites but Hull are a good side, they have some good, dangerous players and, on their day, they have shown they can beat anyone," he said.

"To win we'll have to play well because they will be fired up."

Justin Morgan, who landed his forthcoming job as Hull KR coach on the recommendation of Leeds boss Smith, is aiming to repay his one-time mentor by knocking his team out of the Cup on Sunday.

Friendship and loyalty will be put to one side when the Toulouse coach does battle with his fellow Australian, who earned his spurs in the English game at the Giants between July 2000, when he succeeded Kear, and September 2003, when he joined Leeds.

It was a word to the wise from Smith that paved the way for Morgan to fill the vacancy at National I club Hull KR and the former Canberra and Parramatta forward admits he is indebted.

"Tony taught me a great deal about the game when I was a player and he was cutting his coaching teeth at Parramatta," he said.

"I have a great deal of respect for him. We got on well and we kept in contact. He knew I had a desire to move on and I'm grateful for him helping me get a fantastic job like the one at Hull KR."

Morgan, who will move to New Craven Park after the French Championship final tomorrow week, masterminded a surprise win over Widnes in the quarter-finals.

But that would be a mere ripple if Toulouse manage to topple the reigning world and Super League champions.

"The pressure is on the other mob, not us," insisted Morgan.

"When the draw came out, everyone was happy and excited that we were playing Leeds. We're going out to enjoy ourselves."