Phil Clarke makes huge World Club Challenge prediction

Sky Sports pundit Phil Clarke has had his say on who he believes will win Saturday morning’s World Club Challenge.

The match will take place at BlueBet Stadium in Penrith, the home of the back-to-back Australian NRL Premiers the Penrith Panthers, with Super League Champions of the last four seasons, St Helens, the visitors.

Boasting some of the biggest names in the world of rugby league, Penrith go into the game as huge favourites, with Super League sides failing to win the World Club Challenge in Australia since Wigan beat Brisbane in 1994.

It’s a monumental task that awaits the Saints and despite picking up a morale-boosting win over St George Illawarra Dragons last weekend, the Australian press have written off the Super League Champions with Channel Nine pundit Phil Gould even stating that the Panthers ‘will be able to declare at half-time’.

Despite this, there was a more confident feeling in the Sky commentary box following Leigh Leopards match against Salford Red Devils on Friday night with long-time pundit Phil Clarke tipping Saints for a historic victory.

Speaking to presenter Brian Carney, Clarke said: “I think if you look at that great Wigan team that went to Brisbane and won in front of 50,000 fans, they had Shaun Edwards lead them to that historic win.

“You look at Saints and I think James Roby could be the Shaun Edwards of 2023 and lead them to victory. It will be the very highest level they have ever played at.

“I think they will stay in the game, ride their luck a bit and win a classic game and bring that trophy back over here.”

Boosted by the return of Alex Walmsley and Lewis Dodd, Saints are near enough full strength for the grudge match which will see new head coach Paul Wellens aim to pick up one of the most famous victories in the club’s history in his first competitive match in charge.

Adding to the comments of Clarke, fellow Sky pundit and three-time World Club Challenge winner Jamie Jones-Buchanan also backed Saints to be victorious down under. 

He added: “I think there is an argument to say that if they win they are the greatest Super League side ever.

“People are calling Saints underdogs but they are a very hard side to break down. Paul Wellens is a tough man and he’ll have them ready.

“I think they can win it. I’ll certainly be watching and hoping they bring that trophy back because it will be great for Super League if they can do it.”

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