Danny Houghton will be one of the first names on the Hull teamsheet for Saturday’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup final, although he knows from bitter experience never to take anything for granted.
The 24-year-old Hull-born hooker was widely expected to play in the 2008 final against St Helens, having appeared in each of the previous 14 matches, including the quarter-finals and semi-finals against Bradford and Wakefield.
But he was left out by then coach Richard Agar, who opted to start with the vastly-experienced Shaun Berrigan and put the versatile Richard Horne on the bench despite him being out for more than four months through injury and illness.
“At the time it was devastating,” said Houghton, who was 18th man. “You think you’re never going to get the opportunity again.
“As much as it hurt, it was a case of being as positive as I could be. I warmed up with the lads and went and got changed and sat just behind the dug-out. It wasn’t the greatest memory watching.
“I had to get over it pretty quickly because we had a game the following week and I was selected to play.
“I don’t know if I’d have made a difference or not - you can’t say that because it didn’t happen.
“To sit watching it after being so close to playing was terrible. At the time, that was the choice the coach made. I stuck by him and I’m sure it’s made me a better player than if I had played.
“Five years on, I get the opportunity and I can’t wait now.”