Challenge Cup preview: Liam Finn believes Halifax Panthers are already at ‘key part of season’

The 2024 Championship campaign is still over a month away but Liam Finn has already insisted Halifax Panthers have reached ‘a key part’ of the season ahead of their third round Challenge Cup tie at home to Whitehaven on Sunday (kick off 3pm).
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The Panthers welcome the Cumbrian outfit to The Shay knowing their reign as 1895 Cup holders is nearly over at this year’s group stage.

And with virtually no chance of Whitehaven qualifying for the competition’s quarter finals as well, Finn believes both sides will be “fired up.”

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He said: “Like us, they will be wanting to continue their season and not want a month off. We’re unlikely to progress in the 1895 Cup, which we are gutted about, so this is a key part of our season now in terms of keeping playing up until the league starts in March.

Liam Finn, left, insisted Halifax Panthers have reached ‘a key part’ of the season ahead of their third round Challenge Cup tie at home to Whitehaven on Sunday (kick off 3pm). (Photo by Simon Hall).Liam Finn, left, insisted Halifax Panthers have reached ‘a key part’ of the season ahead of their third round Challenge Cup tie at home to Whitehaven on Sunday (kick off 3pm). (Photo by Simon Hall).
Liam Finn, left, insisted Halifax Panthers have reached ‘a key part’ of the season ahead of their third round Challenge Cup tie at home to Whitehaven on Sunday (kick off 3pm). (Photo by Simon Hall).

“We need to really put some focus into this game. But the Cumbrians are always tough. They have signed a few unknown Australians and a couple we know about having been at Halifax as well.

“They are going to be fired up and determined to come down and put on a good performance. I have not seen anything of them yet this year as they only played last Sunday for the first time, apart from one friendly at Widnes, so I will be watching them this week.

“We will be giving Whitehaven full focus this week. We are expecting the best version of Whitehaven now they have had a hit out. It’s their second game so they will improve drastically from last week.

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“Coming down to us, it’s a nice place to play, so they will be putting their best foot forward. We need to be at our best.”

And Finn is refusing to look further ahead in the competition, which sees the winner secure a home fourth round tie against amateur opposition in either Hammersmith Hills Hoists or Wests Warriors.

He said: “It has (opened up) further down the line but I had it last year at Dewsbury, there is a long way to go until you even get a sniff at playing Super League opposition.

“It’s a lot further down the line in terms of games played. We can’t look too far ahead and we won’t anyway.”