Two of the greatest players in Super League have weighed in on the success of St Helens in the World Club Challenge: Paul Sculthorpe and Adrian Morley.
They both believe it could be one of the biggest moments in the history of British rugby league.
Paul Sculthorpe said on the Last Tackle Podcast: “I think of the three that the club have won I think this could possibly stand out as the biggest. Doing it in the Australian back-to-back premiers back garden, I think they set the precedent straight from kick-off and fulfilled it for the full 80 minutes.
Whilst former Adrian Morley added: “It’s an absolutely massive boost and a huge shot in the arm for British rugby league. It’s probably the greatest achievement by any British side, that’s in the history of the sport. I know Wigan went over in the ’90s and beat the Brisbane Broncos but that was before the salary cap and they virtually had a Great Britain side to go over there. Now in the salary cap era no one gave the Saints a chance so to get the victory is incredible, I take my hat off.”
Sculthorpe provided his analysis of how the Saints were able to defeat the Australian Champions:
“Saints did what I thought they had to do before the game, they had to come out of the blocks, they had to upset Penrith and get stuck in. The likes of James Fisher-Harris and the big intimidating forwards, you had to get stuck into them and they did that from the offset. Matty Lees set the precedent from kick off and big Al, Sione Mata’utia who I thought was outstanding and Curtis Sironen. The forwards really dominated and when there was opportunity to show skill it was exploited.
“To get it back to level it was great professionalism from Nathan Cleary to slot that ball. I’ve been involved in them games where you’re leading and teams get back and take it into extra time. They have the momentum then but fair play to Saints, whatever Paul Wellens said during that break they stayed composed and followed the blueprint and fair play to Lewis Dodd who came up with a great play.
This came as Morley described James Roby as the greatest player in Super League history:
“I think you’d put James Roby as the greatest player of the Super League era and I don’t think there’s anyone to challenge him really. To still put in performances like that at his age is absolutely incredible and a testament to his fitness. There’s still life in the old dog yet.”
They also gave their verdict on where this Saints side ranks in Super League history.
Amor said: “I think that’s the greatest achievement by any English side out of any era. To go down under, we know how strong the NRL is, how strong Penrith are in their own back yard, the travel involved and all these different obstacles to get the win. I think this is the best Saints side of the Super League era anyway.”
Sculthorpe added: “They are the benchmark and that’s not a daft statement when they’re four time back-to-back champions. How you rate eras is a difficult one, and you how you rate players against players. Players can only play against what they’re against. There’s people in the era of the ’70s who will say their era was the best, our team of ’01 and ’06 which was a great side but you look at the current team. They’ve done everything in front of them to be as successful as they can and they’ve come up against the best team from the last two years in the NRL, and put in a winning performance.”