Yorkshire Cup Countdown - Finalists Coaches Thoughts


Sunday 28th December 2008, Kick off 2.00pm
Featherstone Rovers RLFC

Follow the preparation to the big day with insights from both camps, plus the very latest news, views and opinions on the Yorkshire Cup final, from within the amateur game.

To kick off the Yorkshire Cup Countdown, wakefieldarl.co.uk held a question and answer session with the coaches from both camps.

Hunslet Warriors - Dean Sampson

What are your thoughts on reaching the Yorkshire Cup Final.
I’m ecstatic for the club and its supporters. The whole place is buzzing, we are a big part of the Hunslet community and the Hunslet public are taking interest. There has been a lot of turmoil at the Warriors over the past few years, with losing our place in the National Conference League and all the bad press that went with it and I feel that all the hard work that has been put in by the committee, players and everyone at the club over the last three years, is now reaping rewards, culminating in reaching the Yorkshire Cup Final for the first time since the year 2000.

What is even more pleasing for me, is the fact that all our players – and they’re a very young side with an average age of around 22 – have all come through the fantastic, youth and junior set up that is in place at the Warriors. Even those lads who have tried their hand with the pro game, have come back to play with the Warriors and have brought a lot back with them.

How big do you consider the Yorkshire Cup to be?
For me, it’s the flagship competition in Yorkshire amateur rugby league and it decides – arguably – who is the best side in Yorkshire. It is a major competition and as I have said, the community around Hunslet Warriors have recognised our achievement and are really looking forward to the final.

This season as with last year, it pits the best of the CMS Yorkshire League, against the best from the Pennine League; it gives the game that further edge as to who will have the bragging rights. Also in my opinion, it gives the opportunity for two footballing sides to show their skills on the big stage.

Being Wakefield born and bred, what do you feel about meeting a Wakefield side in the final?
It’s great. I’ve come up against Sharlston on several occasions since retiring as a professional player and I’ve not often been on the winning side. But it will be good to see old faces again and I do feel that with this set of players which I am involved with now, are more than capable of redressing the balance.

How much do you know about Sharlston Rovers?
I know that they are a well coached, well drilled side who don’t concede many points and have strike players throughout the side. As a team, Warriors will have to play to our full potential to take anything from this game and over the next few weeks, the players will be jostling for places with all the open age players putting in a bid for a place. There’s usually one or two surprise selections in a cup final team and I’m hoping that they’ll be pushing all the way for a shirt.

Popular consensus would put Sharlston as favourites, does that worry you?
I wouldn’t disagree with that at this moment in time, nor would it worry me. With their recent history in cup football – the Yorkshire Cup in particular – where they’ve appeared in the final twice in the last three years, winning it in 2005. Where as with us, we were finalists eight years ago, having won it the previous year.
But to us, it's eighty minutes of rugby where anything can happen. And there's been bigger upsets in rugby league.

In a nutshell, can you win the Yorkshire Cup?

Sharlston Rovers - Gordy Long & Lee Bettinson

What are your thoughts on reaching the Yorkshire Cup Final.
We’re very pleased on our achievement, it’s given the whole village a lift and everyone is talking about the game which for our village, can’t come quick enough. I know that we have had a lot of recent success in this competition, and personally (Gordy Long) having played in three finals and been on the winning side twice (once with Westgate Redoubt) you never tire of being involved in an occasion like this.

As a squad, we set two realistic goals at the start of this season, one was to go unbeaten up to Christmas or beyond which would see us reach the Yorkshire Cup final and the second is to lift the Pennine premiership. If we win the Yorkshire Cup final that will put us halfway there and we really want to be this year’s winners.

How big do you consider the Yorkshire Cup to be?
We see this as one of the premier highlights of the season, eclipsed only by the BARLA National Cup. The Yorkshire Cup has got a massive history and there have been some great names on the trophy, some unfortunately that are no longer in existence. It is a trophy that every Yorkshire side should be proud to get their hands on and we feel that it’s a great shame, not everybody chooses to enter the competition for a variety of reasons. But for us, that does not detract too much from the competition, the final itself is a great occasion with over two thousand spectators at last year's game, that in itself say’s it all.

How do you feel about opposing Dean Sampson as a coach?
Dean’s record as a player both professionally and in the amateur ranks has earned him enormous respect from within the game. As a player, he never gave less than 100% and he’s made the successful transition – which isn’t easy for everyone to do – from player to coach. Dean like many ex pros, is putting an enormous amount back into the game and Hunslet are getting the benefit.
We’ve had some great battles with Dean when he was at Stanley Rangers a few years ago and it’ll be nice to re-acquaint with him, we’re really looking forward to the big game.

How much do you know about Hunslet Warriors?
We would expect the Warriors to be well organised and to be a very tough team indeed to beat. They won’t take a backward step just like Dean Sampson has never done and we’re sure that he will have instilled positives and a mental toughness throughout the side.

Popular consensus would put Sharlston as favourites, how do you see it?
We are not sure that we will be favourites as both teams are very evenly matched. If the public would like to bill us as favourites, we’re fine with that, but we certainly won’t be taking anything for granted. Warriors have proved their worth in reaching the final by beating the holders – and in many peoples mind this year’s favourites – Queens, in the semi final and they really deserve their place in the final.

In a nutshell, can you win the Yorkshire Cup?