St Helens are heading down under to contest the World Club Challenge with the aim of beating Australian champions Penrith Panthers on Australian soil.
It’s a game that hasn’t been played since 2020 due to the pandemic and not in Australia since 2018, however the last English team to lift the trophy on Australian soil were the 1994 Wigan Warriors.
Almost 30 years later the four-time consecutive Super League Champions’ St Helens will aim to repeat the feat and skipper James Roby is well aware of the challenge at hand.
After all they were involved in the last World Club Challenge played in general, a game they lost at their home ground to Trent Robinson’s Sydney Roosters.
“It’s a great opportunity for us as a club,” Roby told the Sportsman Rugby League Youtube channel.
“Normally it’s played over here so for the opportunity to go over to Australia and play them in their own backyard is probably that little bit more special.
“The last few years we’ve not had the chance because of Covid so everyone’s chomping at the bit.”
Such is the dynastic nature of this Saints side is the fact that eight players from that 2020 defeat will likely feature in the game against Penrith, but for many it will still be a first chance to take their talents down under.
“Everyone’s excited by the opportunity go experience Australia but also the opportunity to call yourself a World Club Champion. It doesn’t come around very often.
“You don’t get the chance often and obviously because Penrith are such a great team it would be right up there with any other achievement that I’ve made. I suppose because I know it’s my last season as well then I know this will probably be my last chance to go over there and probably play World Club Challenge so I want to take that opportunity.”
That motivating factor of it being the last chance he could get won’t just inspire Roby himself but a squad that is more than willing to play for their iconic leader, who was more than aware of the challenge that the Australian champions will provide.
“We know Penrith are a fantastic team, they’ve obviously gone back to back but likewise we’re a good team and on our day we can give anybody a good game.”