Challenge entices veteran Goulding

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Bobbie Goulding, four times a Challenge Cup winner, will experience his favourite competition from a different angle tomorrow.

Goulding tasted Wembley victory with Wigan and St Helens and knows he will not be going that far this time. But, in its way, his first Cup-tie in charge of Rochdale Hornets is just as important to him.

The former Great Britain scrum-half, 32 this week, is the new player-coach at Hornets, doing the job on a voluntary basis while the club tries to overcome its financial problems.

Those problems would be eased immeasurably if Rochdale beat Dinamo Moscow this weekend and draw one of the big boys - like one of Goulding's former clubs - in the fourth round.

"We'd like Wigan at Wigan, Leeds at Leeds or Bradford at Bradford," Goulding said. "The players might not, but the club would."

Goulding hopes to number himself among those players before too long, but an ankle injury is currently restricting him to a touchline role.

"I've been told that I need a reconstruction, but I'm going to give it one more try," he said.

Goulding jokes that he would be ready for a Cup semi-final, although the start of the National League in April is a more realistic target. In the meantime, he must sit out the competition he values above all others.

"It's still the biggest rugby league trophy in the world," he said. "Ask players what they would most like to win and they'd say the Challenge Cup."

He admits that he knows little about Dinamo, who made history in the last round by becoming the first Russian side to win a Cup tie when they beat the amateurs of West Bowling.

The most familiar face from that side, the former Halifax back, Lee Finnerty, is missing this time because of work commitments, but Dinamo, coached by the former Kiwi Test coach, Bob Bailey, have three other New Zealanders in their ranks.

Henry Turua, Siala Futeao and Kurt Pittman will all play at Spotland, with Goulding admitting that his extensively rebuilt Hornets side could be vulnerable.

Four French sides enter the competition tomorrow, with Villeneuve at York, Pia at Barrow and Union Treiziste Catalane at Hull KR in what could be the tie of the round. The team with the best chance of making progress, however, must be Limoux, who are at Gateshead.

The other National League club who could be in danger are the London Skolars, knocked out by Halton Simms Cross at this stage last year and facing Mayfield from Rochdale today.