Could St Helens be denied the chance to play in World Club Challenge?

St Helens are set to head down under to face Penrith as part of the World Club Challenge in February but with the potential for strike action from NRL players over the lack of a formally agreed CBA, then could the game be thrown out of the window?

It was announced that the World Club Challenge would return following it having now ran recently given the pandemic, and that meant St Helens as champions of the European Super League would head to face NRL champions, Penrith Panthers.

Both sides have won consecutive Grand Finals, although for Saints the run now stands at four consecutive compared to Penrith’s two.

The World Club Challenge isn’t the only game that the Red Vee will contest and it’s not the only prize either with the NRL having integrated St Helens into their ‘Pre-season Challenge’.

Effectively Saints will join the 17 NRL clubs in a two-game tournament with points awarded based on wins, tries, offloads and line-breaks with the most points after each side’s two games claiming a prize of $100,000.

Whilst it’s certainly an interesting format and one that will make pre-season games more engaging given the prize money it’s another competition that’s at risk due to the potential strikes in the upcoming NRL season.

The CBA, Collective Bargaining Agreement, has yet to be agreed despite a salary cap having been put in place but players, represented by the RLPA, are now boycotting events such as photo shoots in protest at the lack of CBA.

This has led to the very real potential of strikes if NRL bosses can’t get a deal over the line with former Hull KR captain, Clint Newton, who is representing the RLPA.

So whilst at the moment St Helens are scheduled to head down under and face St George Illawarra and then Penrith Panthers, there’s still a chance that could fall short of happening.

The latest updates around any potential strikes saw the USA Championship declare that their players would be made available to fill out the NRL roster slots.

This action is being driven by the players,” a senior player told The Daily Telegraph.

“The NRL doesn’t understand how unhealthy the relationship is with both the men and women.

“This is not about pay. It’s about the way the NRL have lacked respect in negotiations.”

The season launch is now under threat as well as the wider promotion of the season’s start.

An NRL spokesman on Monday said: “We are aware of some players not participating in today’s club photo sessions with NRL staff. We are in ongoing discussions with the RLPA regarding these and other issues and look forward to an exciting 2023 season for our fans.”

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Harry Spinner
Harry Spinner
4 days ago

Joke, lots of people from the UK forked out on flights, accommodation, tickets for this!!