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Ask Jon Wilkin

CARNEGIE CHALLENGE CUP FINAL
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London Date: Saturday 30 August Kick-off: 1430 BST Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and BBC Sport website


Jon Wilkin dives in for a try underneath the posts

St Helens are busy preparing for the Challenge Cup final against Hull FC on Saturday, but BBC Sport columnist Jon Wilkin has taken time out to answer some of your questions.

Wilkin talks about what it means to play at Wembley and reveals which of the Saints players is the perfect room-mate.

If you want to know more about Jon, use the link on the right-hand side to send us a question.


Is the new Wembley the best stadium you have played at? If not, what is?
James Webster, Preston

It is certainly one of the best I have played at. It is just so big and you really can't grasp the scale of the place through the television.

St Helens celebrate their victory over Catalans Dragons last year
Saints drag their bodies up the steps to celebrate last year's win

For me, all new stadia are very similar in terms of player comfort and facilities but Wembley has that X-factor which is the prestige of playing in one of the world's most famous sporting venues in front of a capacity crowd.

The only downside of Wembley is the ridiculous amount of slippery metal stairs you have to climb after the match to collect either your winners' or losers' medal. It is a massive slog and takes more out of your legs than the game itself.

With the "old hands" like Sean Long, Paul Wellens and Keiron Cunningham having played in many Cup finals, how do they and you as a team keep that hunger and desire to succeed?
John Clancy, Woking

I am so happy Grandpa Wellens is on that list! When you reach the top of the sport like those guys have, you have to win the big games to be inspired to play on. I'm sure all the old hands use that as motivation every year.

As for the team as a whole, it's easy. We all started playing rugby because we are competitive guys. Every player and team in the league has the desire to win trophies.

Which Challenge Cup final has been your best one and why?
Daniel, Warrington

They all have been special for different reasons and it is impossible to pick a favourite.

Jon Wilkin
Wilkin has painful memories of the 2006 final against Huddersfield

Playing Wigan in Cardiff in 2004 was so special as it was my first final. The atmosphere and sense of achievement was immense.

Huddersfield at Twickenham in 2006 was special as it was the first time I thought I contributed in a really big game and I was proud of the team's performance.

Last year, playing Catalans at Wembley was special because in many ways people had turned up to watch us win and everybody had written Catalans off. That put so much pressure on us.

When you are going for more than one piece of silverware, does it change the way you approach the final rather than if the Challenge Cup was your only chance of a trophy?
Rob O'Neill, Wirral

I think that it has a very small impact on the game's outcome. Regardless of what the future holds for your team, the sheer magnitude of the event holds your attention.

What colour scheme have Saints picked for their Cup final suits?
Abi, Leeds

No, no, no, we are not doing a Liverpool with the white suit and red tie, although a few of the older lads, like Willie Talau, requested bell-bottomed trousers and platform shoes to relive their youth!

We'll keep it simple. We've had a range of different ones in the past to ensure Daniel Anderson has a suit of each colour when he goes back home!

Who is the best room-mate and which player would you least like to share a room with and why?
Jenny, St. Helens

Matt Gidley
Matt Gidley is the best-groomed man in the St Helens camp
The best room-mate is easily Matt Gidley. He is a hermit and sleeps all the time, so the pressure to make idle chit-chat is zero.

Also, he's so worldly-wise and has a very calming influence on everyone. Before you know it, Matt has you meditating in your undies while the Australian national anthem plays in the background.

Yet another benefit of being a roomy with Matt is his extensive male grooming briefcase, which he never leaves home without.

Whether it be cleansing lotion or cotton buds, Matt is your man. I hear his essential oil mix for replenishing damaged hair will soon go on sale to the public.

I'd least like to room with Derek our masseur. He snores like a trooper. Apparently his snoring is so loud Derek can attract wildlife from the surrounding area who often mistake his flapping nostrils for a mating call. You don't want to be around when that is going on!

Does it bother the team that you will be playing in the away kit?
Daniel, Wrexham

Not at all. Baby blue is my second favourite colour after pink

How well do you and your team-mates sleep before the night of a big game and have you any funny tales to tell about your sleeping habits?
Greg Lee, Wigan

We do have some rather strange sleepers.

Adey Gardner and Father Jack
Gardner has a tendency to vanish in the night, like Father Jack
Ade Gardner often wakes up and walks around in his high-waisted Y-fronts scratching his head like Neanderthal man and mumbling like Father Jack off Father Ted. Ade has no recollection of activity like this happening!

I am pretty sure Lee Gilmour also likes to wander around in his sleep. As for me, I always sleep pretty well.

The hotel we are staying at ahead of this year's final against Hull has the comfiest beds in the world and is a haven for insomniacs. The beds make you feel like you are being hugged by a giant but gentle bear.



see also
Ask Jon Wilkin
16 Aug 08 |  Rugby League


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