Forster the pensioner aims for Cup bonus

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The Independent Online

The evergreen Warrington Wolves winger Mark Forster, the second oldest player in Super League, has become a sporting pensioner. The veteran threequarter, who has scored 188 tries in 450 first-team appearances for the club, is now able to draw a pension after reaching his 35th birthday.

"I was allowed to take out a professional sportsperson's pension when I was 25 or 26," he explained. "It matured at the retiring age of 35, which I passed in November.

"I've got all the forms through and people are now calling me an official pensioner. But they can call me what they want as long as we are winning games."

Although he has reached "retirement" age, Forster has no intention of being pensioned off and on Saturday will seek to secure a place in the Challenge Cup final, 10 years on from his only previous appearance, when Warrington take on Bradford Bulls at Headingley.

Forster, who is the only survivor from the Warrington side who lost 36-14 to Wigan at Wembley in 1990, is in his 19th season at Wilderspool.

The former Woolston Rovers amateur, second behind the Leeds winger Paul Sterling as the oldest player in Super League, recently signed a new 12-month contract but has no plans to hang up his boots just yet.

"As long as my fitness and my body stands up and the club want me, I will carry on," he said. "I set myself targets to play for Ireland in the World Cup this year and to have one more season."

Forster and company are just 80 minutes from an appearance at Murrayfield on 29 April but the Wolves face an enormous task in recovering from their 58-4 mauling by the Bulls at Odsal last Sunday.

"We realise we let ourselves down, as well as the club and the fans, and we've got to put it right," Forster said.

"We're not dwelling on last Sunday too much and, although it's only five days to prepare, it's a one-off match and the winner takes all. I've been on the end of worse hidings and we managed to turn them around, if not the next weekend, then the weekend after. It's definitely possible."

Darryl Van de Velde, the Warrington coach, yesterday said he was unlikely to make significant changes to his semi-final line-up, with the prop Gary Chambers likely to return to the squad after recovering from an arm injury.

Whatever the result on Saturday, Forster has some way to go before he can become the oldest player to appear in a Challenge Cup final. That record belongs to the late Gus Risman, who was 41 when he led Workington to victory over Featherstone in 1952.