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Meet Red Star: The Serbians making their Coral Challenge Cup debut

Nick Murphy | 25 January 2019

All the latest Coral Challenge Cup news and odds

Coral’s sponsorship isn’t the only thing new about the Challenge Cup this season. So too is the participation of Serbian debutants Red Star Belgrade.

Brett Davidson’s men are 1000/1 outsiders to win the trophy currently held by Catalans Dragons. That puts them some way off 4/1 joint-favourites St Helens and Warrington, who enter later in 2019.

Here’s what you need to know before the new boys make their bow against Cumbrian fourth-tier side Millom live on the BBC Sport website at 1:30pm this Sunday.

How did they get here?  

Foreign participation is nothing new in the Coral Challenge Cup. Catalans have played in the competition every year since 2006, while Canadian-based Toronto Wolfpack made their club debut in the tournament in 2017. Russian sides Kazan Arrows, Moscow Locomotive and Dinamo have all featured in the past.

It’s more of a surprise that Red Star have taken this long to enter. The Red Star Sports Society consists of over 30 different clubs across 27 sports, the most famous of which is Crvena Zvezda, who won the 1991 Football European Cup.

The Rugby League side has been going since 2006 and is now the dominant force in Serbian rugby after ending the 14-year success of Dorcol. They’ve won the last three Grand Finals and two of the last three Rugby League Cups. Red Star are still an amateur side and will play the first two rounds away from home as part of the conditions upon their entry.

Who’s in the squad?

Part of Red Star’s charm is that the majority of their squad is homegrown. 19 of the 22-man squad travelling to Millom hail from Serbia, with Darcy Etrich (Australia), Brandon Anderson (United States) and Jamil Robinson (United States) the only three from overseas.

The foremost of the trio began his career with the Melbourne Storm, while the latter pair both began with the Brooklyn Kings in New York. Indeed, six of the squad are also mainstays in Serbia’s National Team, while a number switched codes after starting out in the society’s basketball team.

Vojislav Dedic is one of the team’s star players in a squad which also contains international aces Milos Zogovic and Rajko Triunovic amongst others. Their quality is matched by a strong team bond which saw them go unbeaten during the 2018 domestic season.

Match Odds v Millom

No-one really knows what to expect between two sides with vastly different backgrounds. The more experienced Millom are taken to edge proceedings at 8/11, with debutants Red Star out at 6/5. The Coral traders go 20/1 about the draw.

Handicap betting could also prove popular. Millom -2.0 or Red Star +2.0 is priced up at 10/11 apiece, while it’s 20/1 again about the Tie (-2.0). Regardless of the result, it should be a brilliant afternoon for both clubs as a piece of history is made in the first round of the 2019 Coral Challenge Cup.

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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing