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The 2014 World Club Challenge will be the fifteenth consecutive annual World Club Challenge and will be contested by Super League XVIII champions, Wigan Warriors and 2013 NRL Premiers, the Sydney Roosters. The 2014 World Club Challenge will mark a return to Australia, 20 years after the last Australian based game. It will be played on 22 February 2014 at Allianz Stadium in Sydney.
Adam Lucius takes us through the ins and outs as the Super League champions the Wigan Warriors travel to Australia to challenge their NRL counterparts the Sydney Roosters in the World Club Challenge.
That’s in the past: English clubs have won the title 12 times to Australia’s nine. Leeds, Wigan and Bradford lead the way with three wins apiece. Brisbane, St Helens, Melbourne and the Roosters have each won it twice.
Now that you ask: This is the first time in 19 years the WCC has been played on Australia soil. Perhaps that goes some way to explaining England’s dominance overall, given the intensity of the NRL can make Super League look like a game of beach footy.
Reason to watch: He’s won rugby World Cups and Super Rugby titles and now has a NRL premiership to his name, so there’s not much left for Sonny Bill Williams to claim except an Olympic medal perhaps. But what’s this? We’ve just been informed this is something SBW hasn’t won. He played in a WCC (2005 for Canterbury v Leeds) and came away empty handed. Big occasions bring out the best in the big man and he will be keen to add to his medal collection here.
Reason to turn away: The beauty of playing the WCC in England is you are guaranteed a full house, a special atmosphere and (usually) a good performance from the home side. Roosters fans aren’t exactly renowned for turning out in huge numbers so this one could have looked a bit bleak if played in front of banks of empty seats. But ticket sales have been reasonably strong and hopefully there will be an atmosphere to match. There is a danger the Poms will struggle away from home but surely they will have a red-hot dig.
Look out for: Josh Charnley’s tattooed hands have been responsible for 107 tries in 99 games for Wigan. That’s a phenomenal strike-rate in anyone’s language. He’s a real character, too. The 22-year-old loves working on a mate’s farm and owns a bulldog by the name of Hector. He’s also covered in body ink, including images of rosary beads and a swallow. Then there’s the Twitter photos of him in the nude, taken when he was teenager. And did we mention he could score a try or two?
Say what: “Out of all the Cups Wigan won in the 1980s, this one game against Manly in 1987 is always the one that gets mentioned. It is remembered in Wigan and I want these players to understand the importance of this game and in 10 or 20 years time to be remembered in the same way.” – Wigan coach Shaun Wane
Final instructions: The fact the Roosters only have to travel 50m down the Allianz Stadium tunnel and not 16,000km to the north of England gives them a distinct advantage. Now it’s Wigan’s turn to aim up after travelling half around the world. The 2013 grand final is a long time ago but not much has changed at the Chookhouse as far as personnel goes. If that line-up was good enough to take out the NRL, you’d think they’ll have the Warriors’ measure in what should be a real cracker. Roosters by 4
Wigan 19-man squad: J Bateman, M Bowen, J Burgess, J Charnley, T Clubb, D Crosby, G Dudson, L Farrell, B Flower, A Gelling, D Goulding, B Green, J Hughes, M McIlorum, S O’Loughlin (capt), E Pettybourne, D Sarginson, M Smith, S Taylor.
Sydney Roosters (probable): A Minichiello (capt); D Tupou, M Jennings, M Aubusson, S Kenny-Dowall; J Maloney, M Pearce; J Waerea-Hargreaves, J Friend, S Moa, B Cordner, S Bill Williams, F-P Nuuausala. Replacements (from): D Mortimer, A Guerra, D Napa, R Casty, K Evans, T Milne, K Kara.
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