Keighley Cougars’ boss Paul March has labelled the Tetley Challenge Cup the “greatest rugby knockout competition in the world”, heading into this weekend’s third-round tie with Wath Brow Hornets.
The Cumbrian amateur outfit visit Cougar Park for a match that March’s team are expected to win comfortably.
But the player-coach insists Cougars will not take Wath Brow lightly and is guarding against complacency heading into Saturday’s match (3pm kick-off).
Cougars were unlucky not to topple Kingstone Press Championship leaders Leigh last weekend, losing 28-26 after a late try from Centurions winger Adam Higson.
March said: “I knew some of their players from my amateur coaching days and they are one of the top sides in the amateur game so we can’t take them lightly.
“We’ll be massive favourites, and if we play like we did against Leigh, the result will take care of itself.
“We’ll just concentrate on ourselves and make sure that we get our game-plan right. That’s what we did against Leigh.
“Obviously we know the players they’ve got but it was all about our massive effort, and hopefully we can keep building on that.
“There was some sore bodies after Sunday’s game with Leigh but we want to keep a consistent side and build some momentum.”
Therefore March will keep changes to a minimum as Cougars bid to move into the next round and a step closer towards a potential clash with a Super League side.
He added: “We only made two changes from the Rochdale game against Leigh and there might be a couple for this game but I want to keep the nucleus of the team together and build a bit of momentum.
“Some teams will say that the Challenge Cup doesn’t rank that highly but it’s the greatest rugby knockout competition in the world and everybody wants to be playing in it.
“The Wath Brow players will be feeling the same because they’re in the third round playing a professional club so they’ll be up for it.
“We’ve just got to be up for it as well, and hopefully we can get a dream tie in the next round.”
March was part of the Huddersfield Giants squad who reached the 2006 Challenge Cup final against St Helens but he played no part due to a torn cruciate ligament suffered earlier that season.
March recalled: “Getting to the Challenge Cup final stands out but I didn’t end up playing because I was injured that day.
“But it was a great occasion to be involved in a club that got to a Challenge Cup final.
“For us smaller clubs, our Challenge Cup final probably comes in the fourth round but we’ll enjoy Saturday, and hopefully we’ll be in the hat.”
March is currently serving a four-match ban imposed by the Rugby Football League for questioning the integrity of an official.
He was handed the suspension last week after the RFL disciplinary panel found him guilty of the Grade C offence in the game with Doncaster on Sunday, February 23.
However, March's appeal against the ban failed last night after his appeal hearing was postponed from Tuesday night because a panel member could not attend.
The player-boss, who is set to hang up his boots at the end of the season, was delighted with Danny Jones and Paul Handforth’s display against Leigh last weekend.
Jones won a place in the Championship Team of the Week for his performance.
March added: “I thought that Tiger and Jonesy controlled the game brilliantly against Leigh, and that’s why I wanted them to be my half-back pairing at the start of the year.”