First team forward Weller Hauraki believes that the close-knit nature of the squad can be the key to success for Castleford Tigers in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup final.
Hauraki, who has been in outstanding form for the Tigers in his second season at the club after joining from Wembley opponents Leeds Rhinos, has seen how head coach Daryl Powell has fostered a big team spirit within the Castleford camp and reckons it can only stand them in good stead for the big day.
The second row knows just how important an opportunity the final represents, as Castleford look for their first Challenge Cup win since 1986.
He said: “This team has bonded massively this season and this sense of togetherness is what has made us so strong.
“We are playing for each other and there is a sense of family both on and off the field.
“You can’t take a game like this for granted, some players play for 20 years and never get the opportunity to play at Wembley – you have to make the most of it.
“The semi-final was hard for me to sit and watch but the boys got the job done.
“I was in good form before the suspension came up and I’ve been determined to maintain that. The boys are so excited about going to Wembley, we are a young squad and some of the boys have dreamt about this their whole lives.
“Daryl Powell has been awesome, he has come in and made us the best defensive side in the league. It would mean the world to us and the supporters to lift that trophy at Wembley.
“We want to give a special mention to Jack Fulton, our chairman. We are going there to win it for him, he deserves it for everything he has done for the club.”
Hauraki knows what it is like to experience Challenge Cup final disappointment, having featured for Leeds in their 2011 loss to Warrington Wolves, but he is a big fan of the competition and hopes he can pass on some tips on how to deal with the big day to some of the younger members of the squad.
He added: “It was the best atmosphere I have ever played in. Not being from England, at first I had no idea how much the Challenge Cup meant, but now I’ve experienced it, I’ve definitely got the bug.
“After you have played there you know the hype and what goes on around the weekend.
“You know what to do and what not to do on the day and it helps you. Hopefully we can pass that on to the other boys and calm them down.
“To play against my former team is going to be fantastic, I said when we started doing well in the cup run that I would like nothing better than to face Leeds in the final.”