In brilliant news it was confirmed last night that Penrith Panthers would be travelling to the UK to contest the World Club Challenge, with Matt Peet’s Wigan Warriors set to host the clash.
There had been speculation and question marks over where, or even if, the game would be played but both sides have come together to make it happen with the Panthers travelling over to face the Warriors on February 24th next year.
Penrith had reportedly been very keen to get the game on with the wounds of defeat to St Helens in 2023 still sore, the Panthers defeated 13-12 in their own back yard.
That game saw huge drama with a Lewis Dodd drop goal securing the game in golden point for Saints, however it’s now Wigan who will have the game hosted in their backyard.
Because of the fact the clash is set for the DW Stadium it’s actually triggered Wigan Athletic, the town’s football club, to have to sacrifice their Saturday 3:00pm kick-off time, something that they confirmed via social media.
The post on X read: “Our home fixture against Cheltenham Town has been brought forward to Friday 23 February 2024 (kick-off 7:45pm).
“This is due to the Rugby League World Club Challenge being scheduled to take place at the DW on Saturday 24 February.”
As such the Warriors and Panthers will take the prime-time kick-off slot on the Saturday with the famous World Club Challenge clash to get underway at 8:00pm.
That will provide a 7:00am kick-off time in Australia with plenty of Penrith fans expected to get up and watch their side aim for a maiden World Club Challenge win.
Despite having challenged for the trophy on three occasions the Panthers are yet to lift the title, with one of those losses coming in 1991 against Wigan Warriors on the last occasion the two teams met.
That was over 30 years ago but Wigan came out on top 21-4 with the match hosted at Anfield, however the Cherry and Whites have home field advantage in 2024 and will aim to earn a fifth World Club Challenge title.
Should Wigan get the win then they would draw level with Sydney Roosters as the team with the most World Club Challenge titles, whilst the Panthers would gain the unwanted record of losing all four contests in the prestigious game.
The significance of the two teams and leagues coming together to make the game happen is huge, but perhaps more so is the fact that the might of football has been pushed aside with rugby league earning it’s deserved time in the spotlight.