Whitehaven hope ‘absolutely brilliant’ St Helens Challenge Cup tie will boost finances

The Cumbrians drew out the plumb tie when the draw was made for the sixth round.

<p>St Helens are coming to town. Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty Images</p>

St Helens are coming to town. Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Whitehaven are hoping to pack out the Recreation Ground to provide a financial windfall when they host holders St Helens in the next round of the Betfred Challenge Cup.

The Cumbrians drew out the plumb tie when the draw was made for the sixth round and director of rugby Gary Charlton says the clash with the three-time reigning Super League champions can set the Championship part-timers up for the rest of the season.

“It’s absolutely brilliant, for the fans, for the club and hopefully for the financial side of it,” said Charlton.

“For the best team in the country to come at your home ground is something for all the west Cumbrian fans to relish.

“It will be brilliant if we can make a few quid to put us on for the season.”

Just 798 fans watched Sunday’s 38-12 fifth-round win over York at what is now called the LEL Arena but the club are hoping to go a long way towards filling the 8,600 capacity for the visit of star-studded Saints next weekend.

Charlton, who made way as head coach for the promotion of assistant Jonty Gorley at the end of last season by moving into his new role, has a long history with all the Cumbrian clubs and played in the Carlisle team that knocked Castleford out of the Regal Trophy in 1995.

But Charlton, son of former Great Britain full-back Paul Charlton, acknowledges that the gap between the top two divisions is now bigger than ever.

“It can happen but it will be an almighty shock if it did happen,” he said.

“We will always go in with the right attitude and commitment but you’ve got to remember the difference in the squads is phenomenal.

“They are full of NRL talent and they’ve people training full-time so the gap is unbelievable between the Championship and Super League, as we saw with Leigh last year.

“It’s hard to compete with those teams, especially the way funding has been cut this year.

“We don’t have a rich person to put money in, everything we earn goes back into the club. It’s a hard old slog every season but it’s something we enjoy doing.”