Steve Price & Justin Holbrook: Childhood pals face up in Challenge Cup final

By Dave WoodsBBC rugby league correspondent
Coral Challenge Cup final
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London Date: Saturday, 24 August Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC One from 14:00 BST and live scores on the BBC Sport website.

The Challenge Cup final sees two of rugby league's biggest rivals come face to face for the very first time in the history of the showcase event.

For the two coaches - St Helens' Justin Holbrook and Warrington's Steve Price - the contest brings a mixture of rivalry and friendship.

The two Aussies have known each other since they were seven-year-old teammates in schoolboy rugby league.

BBC Sport got them together to talk about friendship, their two teams and what we can expect from the 2019 decider.

Do you remember when you first met?

Steve Price: "We played in an under-sevens competition as a pair of colts.

"I just remember you scoring all the tries and I was in the sand pit drawing up all the game plans."

Justin Holbrook: "Yeah (laughs), that's what I do remember about you. I was thinking why is one of my teammates playing in the dirt.

"But I knew you were putting the game plans together, and I always knew you were going to be a coach mate, from when you were six-years-old."

What do you admire about my team?

Holbrook (on Warrington): "Your will to win. It's a trait of yourself and a reflection of your team.

"I know when you first came over at the start of last year, you knew where you wanted your team to be playing and they couldn't get themselves there.

"But I knew as the season went on, you were going to improve them a lot and you did it. You made both the finals and that's what I admire about your side."

Price (on St Helens): "They know their role. There is clarity in everything they do.

"They execute their plays better than anyone. They move fast, they've got youth and experience and they are consistent in their performance."

The Warrington player I'm sort of obsessed with is?

Holbrook: "I really like Daryl Clark and Stef Ratchford. They are two blokes who play the game in an honest and tough fashion, and are very skilful and quick.

"Those two are what make Warrington a real strength."

The St Helens player I'm sort of obsessed with is?

Price: "James Roby is the ultimate professional. He's really consistent in his performance.

"The two front-rowers in Alex Walmesley and Luke Thompson get the ruck speed going and James playing off the back of that. Also Jonny Lomax on that left side, his combination with Zeb (Taia) is threatening."

How have you transformed your team since taking over?

Holbrook: "I think I've just simplified things but also made sure they've got the enjoyment back in the game. I love coaching and I want the players to love playing."

Price: "That first season we got involved with producing big numbers in the pre-season - running train loads. I've got a wonderful coaching group with Andrew Henderson and Lee Briers who challenge me every day.

"We got back to our DNA of defending hard. We got back to that last year. But we need our best performance come Saturday."

You'll never guess what I did once to motivate my team?

Price: "I haven't done it since I've been here. But back home I got my assistant coach to do it half-time. We were defending like (expletive).

"I said to him at half-time - 'Run at me.' I bent my back, dropped the shoulders and drove him into Josh Morris and Beau Ryan and they went flying off their chairs.

"We improved our performance in the second half, to be fair, but we didn't end up winning the game."

Best bit of advice I can give about coaching in a Challenge Cup final?

Price: "Enjoy the moment. Who'd have thought 37 years ago we'd be coming against each other in an iconic stadium like Wembley."

You can see the interview in full as part of the build up to the Challenge Cup final, with coverage beginning at 14:00 BST on BBC1.

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