What happened to Hull’s forgotten Challenge Cup semi-final hero?

In 2016, Hull ended their wait for a Wembley win. After over a century of waiting, the Black and Whites finally lifted the Challenge Cup in the country’s national stadium after years of heartache and replays.

It represented a high point for Hull’s greatest team of the summer era. But one man very much at the core of that Wembley win is all but forgotten these days.

Steve Michaels featured in the final for the Airlie Birds having scored one of the three tries that helped put away Wigan in the semi-final. Yet most forget his contribution to Hull’s success in 2016.

His journey to Challenge Cup glory started in 2004. The then 17-year-old outside back represented the Australian Schoolboys team before moving onto Brisbane Broncos. He made his debut in 2006 but was denied a place in their Grand Final victory through injury. He did feature in the 2007 World Club Challenge but would be denied his first trophy in an 18-14 loss. Sadly, his wait for silverware would go on for another nine years.

He didn’t miss a minute of the 2007 season with Brisbane but again bad luck would undercut his progress as illness prevented him from playing for the Prime Minister’s XIII before injury stifled his form in 2008 as he made the switch to centre.

In May 2010 his time at Brisbane came to an end as he moved to local rivals Gold Coast. He made an instant impact taking the Titans all the way to the preliminary finals. However, they were stopped in their tracks by Sydney Roosters and that was as close as he got to the NRL trophy.

The Titans began to struggle after their play-off appearance in 2010, as they scrapped at the bottom. Nonetheless, Michaels still impressed in a disappointing Titans side as he continued to cross the whitewash.

His form resulted in a move to Hull FC as Lee Radford sought to make the Black and Whites challengers again. His first season was somewhat disappointing as Hull failed to make any real impression in the league or cup. However, 2016 was a different story.

Hull were outstanding in Michaels’ second season as they battled with Wigan and Warrington for top spot. Unfortunately, the League Leaders’ Shield alluded them as did the Grand Final but the Challenge Cup resulted in major success for Michaels and his team.

In the semi-final against fancied Wigan, Michaels crossed for a vital try to turn the tide after Hull had fallen 8-2 behind. It helped inspire his side to victory and took them back to Wembley after disappointment against the Warriors back in 2013.

That earned him a place on the wing at Wembley. It looked like more heartache would follow when Hull found themselves 10-0 down. However, a try from centre-partner Mahe Fonua sparked another comeback like the one seen in the semi-final. Eventually, Hull ran out 12-10 victors over Warrington and Michaels finally claimed his first piece of silverware and had contributed to it massively.

The following year similar success followed for Hull as they retained the Challenge Cup against Wigan. However, he was left out of the final team and wasn’t given a chance of playing at Old Trafford as Hull lost to eventual Champions Leeds in the Super League semi-finals.

He retired at the end of 2017 having claimed the silverware he’d longed for in the shape of the Challenge Cup. However, his legacy would become somewhat tainted in December 2018. After four years of waiting, he was put on trial for supplying over $3,500 of cocaine to friends and teammates. He pleaded guilty and was ordered to serve 200 hours of community service.

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