sport

O'Brien hoping to face Rhinos

Gareth O'Brien is desperately hoping he has done enough to keep his spot in the Warrington team on Saturday as he eyes a dream trip to Wembley.

The 22-year-old half-back has started each of the Wolves' last six Super League matches and is now waiting to discover if he will get the nod to face Leeds Rhinos in the semi-finals of the Tetley's Challenge Cup at Langtree Park, St Helens.

O'Brien was in the team that beat Doncaster in the fifth round but missed out in the all-Super League ties against Hull KR and Bradford, when coach Tony Smith opted to play England scrum-half Richie Myler, initially alongside Stefan Ratchford and then in partnership with Chris Bridge.

"There's massive competition for places," O'Brien acknowledges. "Our team is full of international players. There's Stef and Rich in the halves and Bridgy has played quite a bit there this year as well.

"But the competition is healthy, I've always said that. It keeps us on our toes. We have to perform each week to keep the shirt. You can't afford to be complacent because if you don't perform there's someone there to take your spot."

O'Brien's promise has been in evidence for the last four years but, with the fierce competition for places at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, he has been forced to gain much of his Super League experience on loan at St Helens, Castleford and Widnes.

Lee Briers' retirement looked to have paved the way for his regular inclusion his home-town team as he appeared in their first six matches of the season but he then lost his spot and found himself once more playing on a dual registration with Championship partners Swinton.

"It was right to go back there and work on a few aspects of my game," he continued. "I thought I did that.

"I was happy with my performances there and I've come back and been reasonably happy with how I've been going. I just need to keep it going and try to cement that spot, in either the six or seven jersey, in Tony's side. I'm doing everything I can to show Tony that I deserve a place."

Warrington are aiming for a fourth trip to Wembley in six years and O'Brien would love to be part of it this time after being on the fringes in the past.

"I can't really describe it. It's just a real boyhood dream, you always want to play at Wembley as a kid so it's something I'm determined to get my hands on.

"I've been part of the preparations and all that, I travelled with the squad. I've been in and out of the side, which isn't always ideal. I've had a pretty solid season but always looking to improve."