Big early team news for World Club Challenge

The reigning Betfred Super League champions, St Helens, will travel to Australia in February 2023 to face NRL champions, Penrith Panthers, for the World Club Challenge in what will be new head coach, Paul Wellens’ first competitive fixture.

The match will take place at the home of the Panthers, the BlueBet Stadium on Saturday 18 February, 2023 (6pm KO local/ 7am UK).

In what will be a first for fans in the UK, the World Club Challenge will be broadcast free-to-air by Channel 4 and will be part of double header by the broadcaster that day with the Betfred Super League clash between Hull KR and Wigan Warriors live at 1pm.

The game will also be shown on Sky Sports.

This will mark the 8th time St Helens have played in the World Club Challenge, with two victories to their name, coming in 2001 and 2007, both against Brisbane Broncos.

Penrith Panthers have previously appeared twice in the World Club Challenge, being beaten by Wigan Warriors (1991) and also being beaten by Bradford Bulls (2004).

Due to St Helens travelling to Australia in early February, their Betfred Super League Round 1 fixture, due to be against Huddersfield Giants, has been postponed until a date later in the season. Details of which will be confirmed in due course.

There was some fear that because of the NRL rules around rest after internationals that Penrith’s World Cup stars wouldn’t be able to feature but the Panthers have requested that they be allowed to play and according to the commentary team during Penrith’s Pre-Season Challenge clash with the Parramatta Eels they confirmed that the Panthers are set to name their strongest possible team next week as they are desperate to win the trophy.

They said: “I’m told they will be just about full strength next week. Liam Martin may be the problem. They may have to rest him.

“They are desperate to win that World Club Challenge.”

We have some clues for St Helens’ team as well today with Paul Wellens naming Will Hopoate on the left wing today instead of Jon Bennison and Tee Ritson for the game against St George Illawarra Dragons.

This suggests they will line up this way next week.

Morgan Knowles missed the game as he was “under the weather” and Wellens felt playing him could prolong his “recovery.”

It remains to be seen whether Knowles is ready for the World Club Challenge.

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