Challenge Cup preview: Team news ahead of Wigan v Hull FC at Wembley Stadium
Last Updated: 24/08/13 2:36pm
Gareth Ellis and Sean O'Loughlin get their hands on the cup
Record Challenge Cup winners Wigan Warriors will go in search of a 19th triumph in the tournament when they face Hull FC at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
Wigan are big favourites to extend their record haul of Challenge Cup wins, but they arrive at the showpiece in a poor run of form after slipping down into third in the Super League.
Shaun Wane's men have won just two of their last seven games in the league competition, a sequence partially masked by good cup performances.
Hull have been more inconsistent this season, but have strung three wins in a row together which means they will run out fancying their chances of upsetting the odds.
John Kear and Shaun McRae discuss Saturday's Challenge Cup final at Wembley.
The Black and Whites will also have to finally bury their Wembley hoodoo if they are to lift the trophy, as the four-time winners have never won a final at the North London venue and have been runners-up in the competition 11 times.
Wigan talisman Sam Tomkins has been struggling with injury but even his return could not prevent a heavy loss against Catalans Dragons last time out - although thoughts may well have already been turned to Wembley.
Tomkins' return is a big boost for the final for Wigan - who also have captain Sean O'Loughlin and centre Darrell Goulding back in the squad, while Anthony Gelling misses out.
It will be a third Challenge Cup final meeting between the two teams with Wigan winning both in 1959 and in 1985 - the second of which is one of the great finals ever played.
Peter Gentle's Hull side have several injury problems to contend with as they look to buck that trend though, with full-back Shannon McDonnell ruled out.
Richard Horne is back in the squad though after a three-month absence, while top try scorer Ben Crooks returns from ankle surgery to take his place in the squad for the first time this month.
Joe Arundel is out with a hand injury, and there are also questions marks of the fitness of Kirk Yeaman, Danny Tickle and Tom Lineham making it an even tougher ask for the Airlie Birds.
Hull: T. Briscoe, Crookes, Crooks, Ellis, Green, Heremaia, Horne, Holdsworth, Houghton, Lynch, Miller, O'Meley, Pitts, Shaul, Tickle, Watts, Westerman, Whiting, Yeaman.
Wigan: Charnley, Crosby, Dudson, Farrell, Flower, Goulding, Green, Hansen, Hughes, McIlorum, Mossop, O'Loughlin, Richards, Smith, Taylor, Thornley, L. Tomkins, S. Tomkins, Tuson.
Route to the final...
4th rd: Leigh (h) 60-10 (tries - S Tomkins 4, Charnley 3, Richards 3, Williams; goals - Richards 8)
5th rd: Hull KR (a) 46-14 (tries - S Tomkins 4, Charnley, Richards, Farrell, Thornley; goals - Richards 7)
Quarter-final: Widnes (h) 48-4 (tries - Charnley 3, Tomkins, Green, Smith, Farrell, Hampshire; goals - Richards 8)
Semi-final: London (at Leigh) 70-0 (tries - Charnley 2, Richards 2, S Tomkins, Goulding, Green, Smith, Mossop, Farrell, Thornley, Taylor; goals - Richards 11).
4th rd: North Wales (h) 62-6 (tries - Shaul 3, Yeaman 3, Horne 2, Westerman, Crooks, Lineham, Cunningham; goals - Heremaia 4, Westerman 2, Crooks)
5th rd: Wakefield (h) 24-6 (tries - Pitts 2, Yeaman, Ellis, Horne; goals - Holdsworth 2)
Quarter-final: Catalan (a) 24-13 (tries - McDonnell 2, Briscoe, Lineham; goals - Tickle 3, Westerman)
Semi-final: Warrington (at Huddersfield) 16-12 (tries - Whiting, Lineham, Heremaia; goals - Tickle 2)