Although the ruling that amateurs must always play away at this stage militates against them, there are sides in action who could emulate the feats of West Hull, who reached the fifth round last year. Barrow, for instance, will not be looking forward to the visit of Siddal from the Pennine League. Barrow, the Cup winners in 1955 and finalists four other times, had 72 points put past them in a friendly against Workington last week, while Siddal's form in the league and Cup has been impressive.
Nor will Leigh, winners at Wembley in 1971, be able to relax against Wigan St Patricks, who, apart from their permanent role as the game's most abundant nursery, are well placed to win the National Conference this season.
The most poignant occasion will be at Widnes, where the Cup kings of the 70s and 80s will begin their campaign in a half-demolished stadium against another Pennine League side, Clayton. Naughton Park is in the throes of rebuilding, as indeed are Widnes, with three new recruits from New Zealand - Brian Jellick, Boycie Nelson and Ben Lythe - in their squad. The match will kick-off at 2pm as the floodlights are among the structures to have bitten the dust.
Paris St-Germain have successfully come through a pre-season trial by beating the Penrith Panthers reserve grade side, 18-16, in Sydney. The Paris coach, Peter Mulholland, said he was "greatly encouraged by the performance of a side with little experience of playing together". Paris, who employ mostly Australian players, will fly to Europe on Tuesday to begin their preparations for the fourth round of the Challenge Cup, the draw for which will be made on Monday.
The London Broncos yesterday gave a first game to six new signings - Paul Smith, Josh White, Robert Beazley, Matt Dunford, Roger Best and Matt Nable - against a Mackay Select XIII in Queensland. London, who have been training in Queensland for most of the winter, are also giving trials to Shelton Davis, an American college football player.
The Bradford Bulls' captain, Robbie Paul, has been called up by New Zealand for the World Nines in Townsville next weekend, replacing his brother, Henry, who has a shoulder injury.Reuse content