IN an ideal world, there would be thousands of Warrington Wolves fans heading over the M62 to Elland Road to follow their team today.

Instead, the vast majority will have to watch on from home as Wigan Warriors, St Helens, Huddersfield Giants and Hull KR battle it out in the Challenge Cup semi-finals.

It will be a tough watch no doubt as The Wire sit out the final four for the first time since 2017, when they lost to Wigan in the quarter-finals.

Indeed, every semi-final ‘double header’ – when both ties have been played on the same day at the same ground – has involved Warrington before now.

The players too will no doubt be watching through gritted teeth, reduced to a role of interested observer or cheering on friends and former teammates.

They must take responsibility for that, however, given the meek manner of their exit from the competition at the hands of Wakefield Trinity last month.

Warrington Guardian:

Warrington Wolves fell at the first hurdle in this year's Challenge Cup against Wakefield Trinity last month. Picture by Mike Boden

For this year in particular, there must be a real sense of an opportunity missed when it comes to the Challenge Cup.

Aside from the main motivating factor of winning one of the three honours available in any given season, there was the chance to experience life outside of the norm.

With the final being played at the magnificent Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this year, the chance to play at one of Europe’s best arenas was a huge carrot to dangle.

Granted, the feeling of stepping out of Wembley Stadium can never be replicated or should never get old, but this was a chance to experience something truly new.

You could even say the same of the semis at Elland Road – a stadium only a select few members of the current Wire squad have experienced before from a playing point of view.

Warrington Guardian:

George Williams played at Elland Road for England against New Zealand back in 2018. Picture by

All of that will really sting for the players and if they do end up sitting down to watch today’s game, they will no doubt ponder what might have been.

Everyone associated with Warrington Wolves will be hoping this kind of thing serves as motivation to get themselves back to where they believe they belong – i.e. games like today. Surely they do not want to be sat watching when this opportunity next comes around?

To avoid that, they know what they must do.