Hemel Stags coach Troy Perkins is looking forward to what is one of the biggest games of his coaching career to date when the Stags take on Doncaster in the fourth round of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup on Sunday.
Australian Perkins has been with the club since 2006 and is one of the longest serving coaches in the game.
Nine years with one club is a rarity in any sport, and he shows his dedication to the Stags by making the 150-mile round trip from his home in Coventry to Hertfordshire twice a week for training and for every game.
Although this weekend sees one of his biggest games as a coach, he has no lack of experience in the sport having played first grade NRL in Australia with Balmain Tigers, St George Dragons and Penrith Panthers, followed by four seasons in France with Toulouse and UTC – now Catalan Dragons.
Speaking about the Challenge Cup, Perkins said: “I have grown up hearing about the Challenge Cup and the special day of the final at Wembley due to many Aussies over the years being involved in the final.
“I can remember staying up late and watching Sheffield defeat the star-studded Wigan back in 1998 and its great to be involved in what is the most famous knock-out competition in the world.”
As he announced his squad of 19 players for the game, Perkins added: “All the players are looking forward to taking on Doncaster. We have been playing reasonably well and we can go into the game full of confidence after three consecutive wins, although we realise what a massive challenge this will be for us.
“Doncaster are sitting up near the top of the table in Championship and defeated one of the competition favourites in Featherstone a couple of weeks ago.
“They have some quality players in their squad including former Superleague player Paul Cooke who will be a player that we will need to watch.
“There is no pressure on us as we are the underdogs but we know that it’s important as a group that we give a good account of ourselves and walk off the field knowing we have all given 100 per cent.
“That’s all I can ask for and, who knows, if we look after the ball and complete our sets and defend really well and they have an off day then we might be in with a chance.”
Hemel Stags Squad for Sunday:
1. James Cameron
2. Essad Al-Zubeidi
3. Michael Brown
4. Aaron Small
5. James Hill
6. Mitchell Barbara
7. Ben Young
8. Dom Maloney
9. Evan Simons
10. James Howitt
11. BJ Swindells
12. Alex Ingerfield
13. Dan Ljazouli
14. Lee Hudson
15. Eddie Mbaraga
16. Guy Aldam
17. Matt Bailey
18. James Morgan
19. Malakhi Lloyd-Jones