The NRL has confirmed premiers the Sydney Roosters will play Super League champions Wigan in the World Club Challenge at Allianz Stadium on February 22.
Rugby League’s World Club Challenge is finally returning to Australia, with the NRL confirming on Monday that premiers the Sydney Roosters will meet Super League champions Wigan in the international showpiece at Allianz Stadium on February 22.
After much wrangling between interested parties in Australia and England, NRL head of football Todd Greenberg said the WCC will return to Australia next year for the first time since 1994 when Wigan defeated Brisbane 20-14 – a gap of almost 20 years.
“We have been talking with our English friends about it for a while and they were keen to have it over here and so were the Roosters and it has all come together,” Greenberg told AAP.
“It has always been hard to make the financial side stack up but they are both strong brands and so the game should have great appeal.
“Given the success of the Roosters last year and the fact that rugby league is very much back on the agenda after a long off-season at that time of the year, we think we can make it a success.
“There should be a great appetite for the game.”
Greenberg said he was hopeful the fixture could be a sellout, with Channel Nine looking at broadcasting the game, and that it could be the start of a share agreement between Australia and England, with matches alternating between the two countries each year.
“It’s great to have the game back here and that is something we will certainly be open to,” Greenberg said.
The match presents significant logistical and player management issues for both sides.
The start of the Super League season has been rescheduled to allow for Wigan’s involvement in the WCC, which comes just a week after the Auckland Nines at which all NRL sides are expected to field a number of top-line players.
The star-studded Roosters will likely start favourites for the match, given Wigan’s demanding travel schedule and the fact the visitors will be without star Warriors recruit Sam Tomkins, Wests Tigers’ signing Pat Richards and Lee Mossop who has joined Parramatta.
However the match could herald former North Queensland star Matt Bowen’s first game for Wigan – likewise for former South Sydney and Tigers forward Eddy Pettybourne.
The Roosters won the first WCC at the SCG in June 1976, thrashing St Helens 25-2.