MATCH days will be poorer for the loss of two Warrington hookers at the end of this season.
Michael Monaghan announced this week that this will be his last campaign as a player, and then three days later Jon Clarke did the same.
Although after 11 seasons in primrose and blue Clarke is now finishing his career with fierce rivals Widnes Vikings, both have been influential in Warrington’s renaissance during 10 years at The Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Their roles should not be underestimated in making Wolves a top club again, a team to be feared with the capability of contesting for all honours available.
In that regard they sit alongside last season’s departed heroes Lee Briers, Adrian Morley, Brett Hodgson, Garreth Carvell, Mike Cooper and Tyrone McCarthy.
Both will be bowing out as highly respected individuals on and off the field, and as leaders too with their ongoing captaincy roles at their respective clubs.
Between them, they have given 32 seasons of service at the highest level, amassing more than 600 games.
I can’t think of a better way for these one-time teammates to bow out than on the back of having torn into one another as Challenge Cup finalists at Wembley on August 23.
That would be a superb sideshow to a cracking final, but there is a lot of rugby to be played before that possibility emerges as well as having some luck with the draw.
Vikings should have no difficulties in dispensing with Championship side Keighley Cougars tonight, Thursday, so will be making their first appearance in the semis since 1996.
Wolves, who have recently taken over Widnes’ 70s and 80s handle of Cup Kings, clearly have a stiffer task to reach their fifth semi-final in six years with Sunday’s trip to Bradford.
But if Tony Smith’s side can continue to perform as they did against Leeds Rhinos on Friday, fans will need to start thinking about their Wembley travel and overnight arrangements.
It was Monaghan who said at the season’s start that Wolves will be better in the second half of the campaign than the first, and that certainly appears to be the case.