Friday 12th July 2013  Don Valley Stadium  Kick Off: 20:00:00

Sheffield Eagles Squad

London Broncos Squad

Match Preview


Henderson keeps feet on the ground

Sheffield Eagles are aiming to sprinkle some more fairy dust on the Challenge Cup when they take on London Broncos in Friday's first quarter-final at the Don Valley Stadium.

The table-topping Championship side not only have home advantage but go into the tie on the back of a 15-match winning run against opponents who lie bottom of Super League with no wins from their last eight matches.

It has all the ingredients of a giant-killing act yet the 150-1 competition outsiders remain unfancied to repeat their stunning victory over Wigan in 1998.

The Eagles' veteran hooker Andrew Henderson is optimistic but realistic about his team's prospects of going into the hat for Sunday night's semi-final draw.

"Any cup game is winnable, you're always a chance," he said. "It's pretty fair to say we're going to have to produce our best performance of the season and that's just to give us some sort of a chance.

"They probably would have sat down when the draw came and thought 'great, that's the best we could have had' and we were probably feeling the same way.

"We know they're struggling a little bit with form in the league and they're probably a little bit low on confidence.

"But we're still aware of the magnitude of our task. They are a Super League side with full-time professionals and possess a lot of quality in the likes of Luke Dorn, Benny Fisher, Michael Witt and Jamie Soward, who has been brought over from the NRL.

"We can't disrespect them. They will be talking about this as their saving grace for the season."

Henderson, 34, a Torquay-born, Sydney-raised Scotland international who is starting a deserved testimonial to mark 10 years in the British game, signed a one-year contract extension as he prepares to play in one of the biggest matches of his career.

"I've been involved in some pretty big games over the years but this will be my first Challenge Cup quarter-final," he said.

"I was at Gateshead in 2009 when we played St Helens in the last eight but my father died in the week and I had to go back to Australia.

"It's pretty exciting because we're two games from Wembley. A win tomorrow would be huge for the club and huge for the game, it would be a fairytale.

"There's definitely a realistic opportunity to progress. We've got a special group of people here who are all pointing their noses in the same direction and we will certainly go into this game with some confidence."

Sheffield's only injury doubt is Michael Knowles, man of the match in the Eagles' Grand Final triumph over Featherstone, after the second rower damaged a knee in last Sunday's win over Whitehaven.

"We'll wait until the kick-off to see what the chances are because he's been one of our most consistent performers," said Eagles coach Mark Aston, who was man of the match in Sheffield's win over Wigan at Wembley.

London have skipper Tony Clubb returning from a three-match injury absence, while Australian forward Shane Rodney is back in place of the cup-tied Jacob Fairbank after missing last week's defeat by Catalan Dragons because of the birth of his child.

The Broncos are just 160 minutes away from matching the feat of their 1999 predecessor, who played Leeds in the last final to be held at the old Wembley, and coach Tony Rea says his players will be fired up.

"We're back into cup football and our cup form has been good," Rea said.

"We've had great intent, great purpose and we've respected every challenge and every contest inside of the cup.

"It's great to have Tony Clubb back to lead the squad. Clubby has been a part of many cup ties before and played in big games. He's represented his country and he stands tall for us.

"It's a squad that's buoyant and looking forward to the contest."