The NRL will adjust the kick-off times to NRL Pre-Season matches on Saturday, including the World Club Challenge between Penrith Panthers and St Helens.
The decision was made due to player safety concerns around the forecasted heat and humidity in Regional NSW and Western Sydney.
The NRL has thanked broadcast partners FOX, SKY NZ and SKY UK as well as participating clubs (St George Illawarra Dragons, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Penrith Panthers, St Helens, Brisbane Broncos and North Queensland Cowboys) as well as venues for their cooperation and flexibility.
Updated UK kick off times for Saturday’s games
5.20am — Dragons v Rabbitohs at Glen Willow Oval, Mudgee
7.50am — Panthers v St Helens at Bluebet Stadium, Penrith
9:55am — Broncos v Cowboys at Sunshine Coast Stadium
The World Club Challenge is set to be shown live on Channel 4 with coverage starting from 6:45 am.
Meanwhile Sky Sports will also be showing the game on Main Event and Arena from 7:00 am.
These changes come as Saints were warned of “deadly” weather.
To help both sides cope with the forecast 39 degrees temperatures at Penrith, the NRL has introduced a number of changes for the WCC, including:
Each team allowed to use 18 players
Increased interchanges from eight to 10
Playing the match in quarters to allow additional water breaks
Restrictions eased on trainers to enable them to provide water to players.
All of this has given birth to a persistent narrative that Saints won’t be able to cope with the heat which has brought an avalanche of questions for coach Paul Wellens and he seems tired of answering them.
Now he has come up a hilarious response.
“They seem to think we’re Eskimos who live in igloos,” he said according to Zero Tackle.
“We know they are going to be hot and humid conditions but it’s the same for them as us, and we’ve played in those conditions in places like Perpignan and Toulouse.”
“Sometimes we think that the tougher the better, but I think sometimes you need protecting from yourself and that’s why these rules are in place,” Wellens said of the additional rules.
“The decision to move the kick-off is a sensible one. We want finals to be tough and the players to have to earn their victory, but there are also limitations to the way we want to go about doing that, so I think the sensible approach has been taken.”