Justin Morgan is aiming to repay his one-time mentor Tony Smith by knocking his team out of the Powergen Challenge Cup.
Justin Morgan is aiming to repay his one-time mentor Tony Smith by knocking his team out of the Powergen Challenge Cup. Friendship and loyalty will be put to one side when the Toulouse coach does battle with his fellow Australian in Sunday's second semi-final at Huddersfield's Galpharm Stadium, with a trip to the Millennium Stadium on August 27 awaiting the victors. "Tony taught me a great deal about the game when I was a player and he was cutting his coaching teeth at Parramatta," explained Morgan. "I have a great deal of respect for him. "I got on really well with him and we kept in contact. He knew that I had a desire to move on and I'm grateful for his recommendation and for helping me get a fantastic job like the one at Hull KR. "I spoke to him last week and tried to butter him up but he wouldn't have any of that." Morgan, who will move to England after the French Championship final on August 6, masterminded a surprise win over Widnes in the quarter-finals but that would be a mere ripple if Toulouse manage to topple the Super League champions. The French part-timers made the most of the unforgiving Mediterranean climate to burn off the Widnes challenge last month but they are likely to encounter a drop of about 20 degrees when they arrive in the north of England tomorrow. Morgan insists he has a team for all seasons, however, and that they fully deserved their 40-24 victory over the Vikings. "The weather did have some influence but it was the same for all 34 players," he said. "We had some training sessions in the hot conditions but our guys have to go to work in it and then come to training. While it was a factor, I still think on the day we outplayed them. "We get to play in all sorts of weather at the start of our season - snow and sleet and hail. We certainly get the full season because we start in early December and finish in August. It's something we don't have any control over so it's something we don't address too much." Toulouse made history by coming the first overseas team to reach the last four of the Cup and the occasion did not pass without recognition. "Rugby league in Toulouse is not one of the most popular sports but the week after the Widnes win it was absolutely amazing," said Morgan. "There was coverage in the newspapers and on television and the players were like celebrities for a week. "People would congratulate them when they walked down the street and they put up big posters congratulating the team. We had well-wishes from other clubs and also the politicians, including the mayor. We're flying the flag for French rugby league." Toulouse, who lost out to Union Treiziste Catalane in the quest for a Super League franchise, have ambitions to one day join Les Catalans in the English competition and in the meantime will settle for a trip to Cardiff. A victory over Leeds would top Sheffield Eagles' final defeat of Wigan seven years ago as the biggest-ever Challenge Cup upset but Morgan is full of hope. "The pressure is on the other mob, not on us," he said. "When the draw came out, there wasn't any mixed reaction. Everyone was happy and excited that we were playing Leeds. "We're going out to enjoy ourselves and stranger things have happened in rugby league before."
Festival of World Cups organisers have announced that tickets for the Police, Women's and Student Rugby League World Cup Finals have gone on sale, with the three events taking place at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on Sunday July 14.
Leeds Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott said crucial mistakes had cost his side following their defeat to St Helens. Speaking after the game he said: "We were in command but that was never the game so early. I was never feeling comfortable at 16-0. I'm not sat scratching my head wondering how we lost. We missed too many soft tackles at crucial times and it gave them a bit of momentum. Take away a couple of blunders near our try-line and it's more of a tighter scoreline."
Leeds Rhinos let a first half lead slip away at home to St Helens. The Rhinos started well when Watkins scored a try after six minutes and Moon and Burrow got one each soon after to make it 16-0 but Saints hit back running in six tries to end their losing run and put them back in the top eight
Young Rhinos star Liam Sutcliffe said there was disappointment that the Rhinos lost out to Saints in his first senior game, but said they would be focussed on putting things right against Wigan. Speaking after the game he said: "I would have liked to have started my first league game with a win but it wasn't to be this time. I was buzzing that they had got a lead and I was dying to get on. I was nervous and excited at the same time just to get out on the pitch and get stuck in. It will be a tough game against Wigan and we will have to come in to training this week with our heads focused and put right what we did wrong tonight and be ready for next week."