Undeniably, St Helens and Penrith have been the dominant force in their competition over the last few years.
Since 2018, the Saints have been the top dogs in Super League. That season they stormed to the top of the league but did miss out on the major finals but have been a winning machine in big games since.
They’ve won four Grand Finals on the spin against four different clubs setting a Super League record in the process.
Add to that Challenge Cup success in 2021 and a third League Leaders’ Shield this year and it’s apparent that the Saints have put together one of the most dominant spells in Super League history and often Kristian Woolf – who leaves to take an opportunity at the Dolphins in 2023 – has spoken about how well this side would do in the NRL.
But, speaking of the NRL, there is one prize that has always alluded the Saints during this period of dominance and that’s the World Club Challenge.
They contested a brilliant battle at the Totally Wicked Stadium in 2020 against Champions Sydney but due to the pandemic haven’t played in one since.
In that time, Penrith have begun to create their own dominance around the NRL. After finishing top in 2020 and losing the Grand Final, the Panthers have won consecutive Grand Finals against South Sydney and Parramatta only losing four games in 2022 as they produced one of the most dominant title defences in NRL history cruising to the Minor Premiership.
So, could we see Saints take on the Panthers in a battle between two sides who have defined their competitions in recent years?
Well straight after victory over Leeds Rhinos in the Grand Final, Saints underlined how they’d be keen but what about the Panthers who only secured their title yesterday.
According to The West Australian, Penrith coach Ivan Cleary is very up for it.
He told reporters: “For sure … let’s go. You’d sit back and watch it in the years gone by … it’s something that everyone would always want to be part of.”
So Penrith are keen but the steep air fares have already been identified as a stumbling block as has the calendars both sides need to negotiate especially after the World Cup and the fact the NRL starts earlier in 2023 to accommodate an already longer season.
But it is clear that both Penrith and St Helens are keen on butting heads in 2023.