GROWING up outside the traditional heartlands of rugby league, Matt Davis’ love of the sport began with the Challenge Cup.

Born and raised on the outskirts of Leicestershire, his first taste of league came in the form of knockout ties screened live on the BBC.

The 23-year-old was at Wembley as a fan for the past three cup finals.

This year, he’ll be playing.

Back rower Davis said: “We didn’t have Sky Sports when I was younger, so I always watched the Challenge Cup when it was on.

“Obviously when I was down at London Broncos, Wembley was only 10 minutes away.

“I was sitting there last year with 60,000 other people, and I definitely wasn’t thinking that I’d be out there next year.

“It’s hard to imagine that I could be playing there this weekend – it is a bit surreal.

“When I’m there in the tunnel, I think that’s when I can really take it all in.”

Warrington Guardian:

Celebrating Toby King's semi-final try with Jake Mamo, Ben Murdoch-Masila and Jack Hughes

Warrington Guardian:

A breakout star for Warrington Wolves in the 2019 campaign, Matt’s road to Wembley certainly took him off the beaten track.

On the books of Leicester Tigers as a teenager, Davis switched codes from union to league with Leicester Storm.

The Midlands development programme at Loughborough University saw him facing Championship u21s teams, often squaring up to players up to six years his senior at the age of 16.

He was soon brought into the Broncos set-up, and was handed his debut in 2015 by now Wire assistant coach Andrew Henderson – who came out of retirement to play in the same fixture.

Battling back from a serious anterior cruciate ligament injury in 2016, Matt caught the eye for London in 2017 and 2018.

But even after signing with the Wolves, his path to the first team was not a straightforward one.

Instead, he earned his place the hard way during spells on duel reg with Rochdale Hornets and back on loan to his former club in the capital.

Debuting for Warrington in a 48-12 win over London in April, Davis hasn’t looked back since.

Warrington Guardian:

Davis making his Warrington Wolves debut against his former club

He added: “I had a good pre-season, but I would be stupid to think I was going to come in and play every week straight away.

“It was really tough having played for London and pumped Rochdale by 70 points the year before to then go and have to play for them.

“It’s hard not to worry about the future at a time like that, but I knew I had the capability.

“Going back down to London was really good for me – I hadn’t played Super League before, and I got a good taste for it there.

“I had to wait my turn, and I worked hard for it.

“I’ve come a long way in a year.”

Warrington Guardian:

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From the Burgesses and the Tomkins brothers, right the way back to the Mylers and the Foxes – rugby league is a sport littered with family dynasties.

But could the next band of rugby league brothers hail from the unlikely location of a village somewhere near Hinckley?

Among a large group cheering Matt on at Wembley this weekend will be his younger brothers Sam and Jonno.

Both are also making names for themselves in the sport – 20-year-old Sam having broken into the first team as a hooker at London Broncos while teenager Jonno is plying his trade as a halfback in the City of Hull Academy.

So fans should expect to hear a lot more about the Davis brothers over the next few years.

Warrington Guardian:

Forward Matt said: “I’ve got a lot of family coming, probably about 10 to 12 people who have always supported me – my fiancée’s family are coming too, and a lot of the London boys will be going to watch me as well.

“My brothers will both be there and they’re really excited for it.

“Our parents have supported us all from day one, we couldn’t do what we have done without them.

“They’ve driven us around the country, non-stop.

“They used to drive from Leicester to Cumbria to watch me play, and down to London every week.

“It probably helps being in the centre of the country.

“I hope it will be a big thing for them to see me walk out at Wembley.”