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St Helens confirm the absence of star player for World Club Challenge but key man returns

Head Coach of St Helens Paul Wellens has named a strong 22-man squad for this Saturday’s historic clash against Penrith Panthers for the 2023 World Club Challenge.

The Battle for World Glory takes place at Penrith’s home ground the BlueBet Stadium, with kick-off now knocked back by 50 minutes than was originally scheduled at 6:50pm local time, which will be 7:50am in the UK. More information can be found here.

A fiery game was always expected between the two Champion sides; our FOURmidable Saints who head into the 2023 season aiming for a fifth Super League crown in a row, taking on what’s been discussed as one of the NRL’s best-ever sides in Penrith Panthers who are vying for a third successive premiership this year.

Wellens, a two-time World Club Challenge winner in 2001 and 2007, takes charge of his first competitive match since becoming the club’s Head Coach.

Nine members of the Saints’ World Club Challenge squad have experience in this competition before*, and captain James Roby is the sole man in the squad who has been a World Club champion previously when he was part of the 2007 team who beat Brisbane Broncos.

Morgan Knowles missed last week’s victory over St George Illawarra Dragons due to illness but is back in good health and in line to feature on Saturday evening. The game will be even more significant for star centre Mark Percival should he play, as it would mark his 200th appearance for St Helens.

England international back-rower Joe Batchelor unfortunately misses out after picking up an ankle injury in last week’s Pre-Season Challenge game against the Dragons. He is still being currently assessed.

St Helens 22-man squad vs Penrith Panthers
1. Jack Welsby, 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Will Hopoate, 4. Mark Percival, 5. Jon Bennison, 6. Jonny Lomax, 7. Lewis Dodd, 8. Alex Walmsley, 9. James Roby, 10. Matty Lees, 11. Sione Mata’utia, 13. Morgan Knowles, 14. Joey Lussick, 15. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 16. Curtis Sironen, 17. Agnatius Paasi, 18. Jake Wingfield, 19. James Bell, 20. Dan Norman, 21. Ben Davies, 23. Konrad Hurrell, 25. Tee Ritson.

The World Club Challenge is making a welcome return for the first time since 2020 when Saints last hosted the competition against the Sydney Roosters. If Paul Wellen’s men are successful in Penrith, it would be landmark moment in the club’s storied 150-year history, picking up a third world title, whilst for Ivan Cleary’s Panthers it would be their maiden World Club trophy.

Saints will be wearing a special strip for Saturday’s game which celebrate our successes in the World Club Challenge in 2001 and 2007. At the lower front of the shirt there is the iconic image of the 2001 winning team celebrating with the World Club Challenge trophy. On the sleeves are images of James Graham and James Roby (right sleeve) and Paul Sculthorpe (left sleeve) holding the trophy from 2007.

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