LONDON SOUTH EAST RUGBY LEAGUE

22nd February 2020, 09:27 | world_club_challenge

Betfred World Club Challenge Preview

Betfred World Club Challenge Preview

St Helens v Sydney Roosters

Betfred Super League Champions St Helens are looking to take the title of the ‘best team in the world’ on Saturday evening as they battle dominant NRL Champions Sydney Roosters in the Betfred World Club Challenge.

St Helens have held the accolade on two previous occasions following narrow victories over Brisbane Broncos in 2001 and 2007. Field goals from club legends Sean Long and Paul Sculthorpe proved the difference in 2001 while an Ade Gardner double helped them on to victory six years later.

However, they face formidable opposition in the Sydney Roosters who have lifted the World Club Challenge on four occasions, most recently in 2019 with a 20-8 victory over Wigan Warriors. Their first title was prior to the club’s name change from Eastern Suburbs against St Helens in 1976. 

The Roosters’ first World Club Challenge under their new pseudonym came in 2001 when they demolished this weekend’s opponents St Helens 38-0 at the University of Bolton Stadium. 

St Helens qualified for this year’s showpiece event with a memorable 23-6 victory over Salford Red Devils at Old Trafford in the Super League Grand Final, after finishing 16 points clear of the chasing pack in the regular season.  

But there has been change at the Totally Wicked Stadium with Justin Holbrook leaving his post and being replaced by Tongan international Head Coach Kristian Woolf who will be aiming to lift his first piece of silverware as Saints boss. 

Their Australian counterparts won the 2019 NRL Grand Final in controversial fashion against a Canberra Raiders side featuring three England internationals. The victory saw Sydney become the first side to win consecutive NRL titles since Brisbane’s 1992-93 side. 

Eight of the current St Helens squad featured in their most recent World Club Challenge appearance back in 2015. Kyle Amor, Jonny Lomax, Tommy Makinson, Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Mark Percival, James Roby, Luke Thompson and Alex Walmsley were all part of the side that were hammered 0-38 by South Sydney Rabbitohs. 

Hooker Roby is the one player to lift the World Club Challenge with the club, having won the competition with an 18-14 victory over Brisbane Broncos back in 2007. Lachlan Coote was part of North Queensland’s victorious 2016 side, although he misses out this weekend due to injury.

As for the Roosters, their squad is littered with World Club Challenge winners with 15 of the squad featuring in the 8-20 defeat of Wigan Warriors at the DW Stadium last season. Jared-Waerea-Hargreaves, Daniel Tupou, Jake Friend, Boyd Cordner and Mitchell Aubusson are all two-time winners with the Roosters.

Brett Morris – who scored a hat-trick in last year’s World Club Challenge – has also won the competition with St George Illawarra Dragons while teammate Luke Keary won the title back in 2015 with South Sydney Rabbitohs. 

Squads:

St Helens 

Tommy Makinson, Kevin Naiqama, Mark Percival, Jonny Lomax, Theo Fages, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Luke Thompson, Zeb Taia, Dom Peyroux, Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Morgan Knowles, Matty Lees, Kyle Amor, Joseph Paulo, Aaron Smith, James Bentley, Matty Costello, Jack Welsby, Lewis Dodd, Tom Nisbet. 

Sydney Roosters

James Tedesco, Daniel Tupou, Angus Crichton, Joseph Manu, Brett Morris, Luke Keary, Kyle Flanagan, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend ©, Siosiua Taukeiaho, Sitili Tupouniua, Mitchell Aubusson, Victor Radley, Sam Verrills, Isaac Lui, Nat Butcher, Lindsay Collins, Matt Ikuvalu, Poasa Faamausili, Asu Kepaoa, Lachlan Lam.

The game will feature on Sky Sports Main Event from 7:45pm on Saturday 22 February. Additional coverage is on air on Sky Sports Action from 7pm.