Kangaroos legend says ‘expansive’ St Helens ‘will be a worry’ for Penrith Panthers in World Club Challenge

St Helens are reigning four-time Super League Champions and have been a class above the rest for some time on home soil – but their biggest test awaits in the new year.

Saints will travel down under to play in the World Club Challenge against back-to-back NRL Premiers the Penrith Panthers, a side full of world class talent across the pitch.

Both teams have built a dynasty in their respective competitions and it will be a battle of worlds and styles when they meet on Saturday 18th February at BlueBet Stadium in Sydney.

Saints will enter the game with a new coach after Kristian Woolf, the architect of the previous three Super League titles, left to be Wayne Bennett’s ‘understudy’ and assistant with NRL new side Dolphins.

Paul Wellens will now lead St Helens in a game that Australia head coach Mal Maninga thinks the English side have more than a fair chance in, despite many predicting a big win for the Panthers.

Speaking to the ‘Redvee‘ YouTube channel, Meninga, who spent a memorable season at St Helens in 1984-85, believes the style of the Super League Champions may catch the Panthers off guard. 

“I made a comment the other day around the English game and how expansive you play, it’s quite entertaining,” Meninga stated.

“I think the way Saints play, being a bit more expansive in the way they use the football, it could worry the Penrith side, or most teams in Australia.

“There’s a bit of focus on defence but it’s ball skills and the way you play that I think is conducive to beating an Australian side on Australian soil.”

Speaking about their opponents Meninga, who coaches several of Penrith’s players at international level with the Kangaroos, says the Australian Champions will stick to their usual style.

“Penrith are very well structured,” he said. “They understand what they need to do with the football.

“They’re very systematic with the way they defend.”

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