The feeling of euphoria among the St Helens players as they finally lifted the Challenge Cup at Wembley on Saturday suggested the climax of a journey this squad has been on for some time had finally arrived. Back‑to-back Super League titles, near-total domestic dominance and now, after 13 years of trying, the Challenge Cup, after a 26-12 win over Castleford, to boot.
However, for a group of players who have sought perfection for so long, there is perhaps one thing missing before this team breaks up later this year: a clean sweep of the Super League title, the League Leaders’ Shield and the cup in one season. Winning the treble would put this squad in elite company as far as the modern era goes; Saints would be only the fourth team in the summer era to do so.
Yet you feel despite the outpouring of emotion at Wembley, this group have one more battle left in them. “I know you shouldn’t compare eras and teams, but we’ve dominated the past couple of years,” the St Helens prop, Kyle Amor, said.
“For us as a playing group, to finish top in 2018 and 2019, win the Grand Final for the last two years and then win today. I’ve no doubt if we can add to that, then we will cement this legacy.”
You could argue that legacy is already secure, having won every available domestic honour inside little over two years. The debate has already begun about where they rank against the other great sides of the Super League era. “Ultimately that’s down to whatever the media writes and how fans portray that,” Amor said. “But this is a special time to be a St Helens player.”
Their attention now turns towards a clean sweep in 2021, with the league leaders, Catalans Dragons, arguably their biggest obstacle in preventing a third successive Super League title. But for players like Amor, who have toiled for years to get their hands on the Challenge Cup, there first requires a moment to appreciate the magnitude of their Wembley triumph.
“I’m over the moon,” Amor said. “As cheesy as it sounds, it’s what dreams are made of. It’s the final piece of the puzzle for me and quite a lot of the lads as well. From the feelings we had two years ago to what we have today is pretty special.”