Brothers rely on Canberra lessons

PA Sport
Joel Monaghan lines up for Warrington against Leeds in Saturday's Challenge Cup final
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Joel Monaghan lines up for Warrington against Leeds in Saturday's Challenge Cup final

Formative years spent learning the art of rugby league in Canberra will be at the forefront of the Monaghan brothers' minds when they line up for Saturday's Challenge Cup final against Leeds, according to younger sibling Joel.

The 30-year-old winger and his older brother Michael, 32, will stand side by side for Warrington at Wembley as they go in search of a third final win in four years. Michael played in both of them in 2009 and 2010, but for Joel, stepping out at the national stadium will be a first in his career.

He only moved to Warrington at the start of last season and, despite having played with his brother for Canberra, this will be the biggest stage they have shared. "There will be an element of us looking at each other beforehand and remembering where we have come from and how we started out in the sport," he told Press Association Sport.

"We spoke about it after we beat Huddersfield in the semi-finals and it seems to have taken an age to have come around. We learned the game together as kids and to be here now, as brothers, is something very special."

Joel says he and Michael are contrasting figures, the winger typically laid back and his hard-working hooker of a brother an intense worrier. He claims they never fight, though, which is something typified by Michael's role in his brother's moving to England after his departure from Canberra following a high-profile off-the-field incident.

"He was on to me straight away, telling me to come to Warrington and to be part of what was happening here," Joel said. "He had played in two finals here already, and my parents had come over to see him and saw how great it was. Mick was telling me to come over and get the chance to play at Wembley with him."

A week ago Warrington would have been the overwhelming tip for the crown having recorded impressive league wins over St Helens and Wigan. A 50-point drubbing by London on Friday has changed that, though, albeit they had made seven changes, with Leeds desperate to avoid losing three cup finals in a row.

However, according to Monaghan, the debris from that defeat has already been cleaned up and Warrington are ready to right the wrongs.

"We moved on from that pretty quickly," he said. "We weren't good enough in London, but in a way, it helped us. We got to travel down there, as we will this weekend, and we got a feel for the travel down there and the staying over and such.

"We can hopefully learn from that and prepare for this weekend's game better. A lot of what happened last weekend was disappointing, but there are plenty of things we can put right and get better against Leeds."

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