Challenge Cup: Saturday's semi-final talking points and team news
Totally Wicked Stadium hosts a double-header which sees Leeds Rhinos against Wigan Warriors (2.30pm) and Salford Red Devils versus Warrington Wolves (5pm) for a place at Wembley on October 17.
Last Updated: 03/10/20 2:35pm
What's being said ahead of Saturday's two Challenge Cup semi-finals, which see Wigan Warriors face Leeds Rhinos followed by Salford Red Devils taking on holders Warrington Wolves at the Totally Wicked Stadium...
Lam's history boys
Wigan's heritage in the Challenge Cup remains as important to Adrian Lam now as it did when he first came to the club as a player in 2001.
Growing up in Brisbane, the young Lam was transfixed by the Cherry and Whites' exploits in the competition on this side of the world as they lifted the trophy eight times in a row between 1988 and 1995.
The Papua New Guinea international later went on to be part of a Wigan success, scoring a try in the 2002 final win against St Helens at Murrayfield, but that remains one of only three occasions the 19-time winners have lifted the Challenge Cup in the Super League era.
Now head coach of the Warriors, Lam is determined to bring the trophy back to the club and has been emphasising their legacy in the Cup to the squad's younger players ahead of Saturday's semi-final clash with Leeds Rhinos.
"It was one of the competitions I looked up to as a young boy in Australia," Lam said. "I always wanted to be a part of it as a player and it was the main reason I signed with Wigan.
"It's etched in the club's history and to only have won it three times in the Super League era is an incredible stat. We're aware of that and we've talked about it.
"It's really important for me in my philosophy that you understand where your roots come from and learn about your predecessors who have worn the jersey and brought success.
"That's what creates culture, history and legacy in a club. It's why people see Wigan as one of the greatest clubs of all time."
Sean O'Loughlin, Tommy Leuluai, Zak Hardaker and Liam Farrell are the only players in the current Wigan squad who have won the competition - and even then, both of Hardaker's successes have come with Leeds.
All of those are in Lam's 21-man squad for the match, which sees the big guns recalled after six of the Warriors' up-and-coming stars were handed debuts in the midweek Super League derby defeat to St Helens.
Cup a family affair for Agar
Lam's opposite number Richard Agar would be following the footsteps of his father if Leeds go on to win the Challenge Cup this year
Allar Agar was the man in charge when Featherstone Rovers upset holders Hull FC with a 14-12 win in the 1983 final at Wembley, an occasion which is still vividly remembered by the current Rhinos head coach.
Indeed, Agar has plenty of fond childhood memories from his father's involvement in the competition as a player and coach.
"Obviously the big one for me which I've done countless recollections of over the years is 1983," Agar said.
"I'd have been 10 or 11 years old and watched Featherstone beat Hull FC at Wembley, and I can recall pretty much everything about the weekend.
"My dad, as a coach at the time, would do corporate things around those weekends, so I've had many tremendous weekends watching finals - particularly through the 1980s and early 1990s.
"I've got a lot of great, vivid long-term memories about the Challenge Cup and the magic it brings."
Agar has been part of a Challenge Cup-winning team before, serving as on John Kear's staff when Hull snatched a thrilling victory over Leeds in 2005, and steered the team to Wembley as the man at the helm three years later where they were beaten by St Helens.
The Rhinos are aiming to reach the final for the first time since beating Hull Kingston Rovers to lift the trophy in 2015, and have Konrad Hurrell and Brad Dwyer back in contention, with Cameron Smith also returning from a fractured cheekbone.
Austin aims to make up for injury woe
While Warrington were celebrating Challenge Cup glory last year, Blake Austin had to watch on from the sidelines due to being absent with an ankle injury.
The Wolves face Salford in Saturday's second semi-final aiming to make it three appearances in succession at Wembley, with the half-back determined to ensure that is the case.
"I really enjoyed watching as a fan but, as a professional athlete, it was certainly a bitter-sweet taste in my mouth to have to sit back and watch it," Austin said.
"So, the opportunity to go back to Wembley and play in a Challenge Cup final is certainly something that I really want to do.
"All the boys that have grown up in this country speak of their earliest memories of watching Challenge Cup finals on TV and watching their heroes run around, so it's a game I want to be involved in."
Steve Price's side go into the match having seen an 18-point lead after 36 minutes overturned by the Red Devils as they were edged out 20-18 in Tuesday's Super League match.
Stefan Ratchford returns to head coach Price's 21-man squad for the last four clash and is set to make his 250th Wolves appearance against the club he began his career at.
Rowley's pride in Red Devils
Salford are aiming for another appearance on one of rugby league's biggest stages on the back of making last year's Super League Grand Final.
For assistant coach Paul Rowley, it could hardly have been a better period to join Ian Watson's staff after linking up with the club midway through last year.
Former Leigh Centurions and Toronto Wolfpack head coach Rowley is enjoying being part of the Red Devils' rise as they bid to ensure the run to the 2020 Grand Final was not just a one-off as far as competing for honours goes.
"I think it's just been a bit of good luck and what I've noticed, living in the area, it's been a privilege to be involved in this short period of time," Rowley said.
"In particular, the fans in and around the city of Salford - the amount of people come up talking when we got to the Grand Final who wanted to have a chat and the enthusiasm in and around the place is contagious.
"That's made me feel really good about where I live and representing Salford as a city and a group.
"The people who run the club are steering the ship through some really turbulent waters at the minute and long may the good times roll. I'm certainly enjoying myself."
The Red Devils are boosted for the semi-final by the availability of Dan Sarginson after he had a two-match ban overturned, with the centre being among a number of returning players following the midweek win over Warrington.