WARRINGTON Wolves players who are given the nod by head coach Wayne Bennett in the Rugby League World Cup Final today can make history.

That is because England have never won the event, only making the final on one previous occasion when defeat was suffered at the hands of Australia 16-8 at Wembley in 1995.

Before the split into England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales as competing nations at that time, the combined force of Great Britain did triumph in the tournament in 1972 – the last team from these shores to do so.

And in charge of that glorious outfit was Warrington’s Jim Challinor, the town’s greatest link to rugby league’s biggest prize.

There were no Wire players involved in the GB team that drew 10-10 in the final with Australia at Stade Gerland in Lyon, Challinor’s warriors taking the title having finished on top of the qualifying league table.

John Grant, who played in the centre for the Kangaroos that day, stayed over to play a guest spell with The Wire during the Australian off-season.

At stand-off for Australia was Warrington-born Bobby Fulton, who had spent a season in primrose and blue at the end of the 1960s.

Wire legend Harry Bath was coach of the Kangaroos at the time but it was his former Wire teammate Challinor who ended the campaign smiling.

His Great Britain team that defeated the Aussies: Paul Charlton (Salford); Clive Sullivan (capt, Hull), Chris Hesketh (Salford), John Walsh (St Helens), John Atkinson (Leeds); John Holmes (Leeds), Steve Nash (Featherstone), Terry Clawson (Leeds), Mike Stephenson (Dewsbury), David Jeanes (Leeds), Phil Lowe (Hull KR), Brian Lockwood (Castleford), George Nicholls (Widnes). Sub used: Bob Irving (Oldham).

Challinor led the under-rated Lions to victory over Australia (27–21), France (13–4) and New Zealand (53–19) to reach a final in which Sullivan and Stephenson scored tries, with Clawson adding two conversions.

It was the finest hour in Challinor’s decorated career.

As a player he won the Championship twice, the Challenge Cup and Lancashire Cup with hometown Warrington, he coached St Helens to Championship, Challenge Cup and Floodlit Trophy glory days, while also steering Barrow to their last Challenge Cup Final appearance.

The 1958 tourist Down Under was a World Cup winner with an undefeated Great Britain side in 1960 before guiding his country to similar glory 12 years later.

Yvonne Halford remembers a game of table tennis in the Fearnhead family home built by Challinor, her father – and the prize up for grabs was the Rugby League World Cup.

She said: “When we first moved in, we had some Australian Schoolboys stay with us during their tour. It would have been 1972, because we had the Rugby League World Cup at the house.

“We played table tennis for the World Cup. We broke the eagle on it and had to get it welded back on.

“I don’t think it was the first time it had been broken. The following tournament there was a different cup, so I think they’d got fed up of the eagle and designed a new one.

“They kept phoning dad up saying can we have the cup back yet, and he said yes but didn’t tell them it was coming back from the welders.”

Challinor, a builder by trade and sports retailer who had joined The Wire from junior club, Orford, got his boots out again two years after coaching GB to World Cup glory.

He was in charge for the 1974 tour Down Under and, aged 40, he came out of retirement due to an injury crisis on the New Zealand leg.

He scored a try in the 33-2 win over South Island at Greymouth.

However, Challinor picked up an injury that resulted in him having a kidney removed.

Tragically, he died from cancer two years later at the age of 42.