St Helens handed massive boost ahead of World Club Challenge

The reigning Betfred Super League champions, St Helens, have travelled to Australia to face NRL champions, Penrith Panthers, for the World Club Challenge in what will be new head coach, Paul Wellens’ first competitive fixture.

The match will take place at the home of the Panthers, the BlueBet Stadium on Saturday 18 February, 2023 (6pm KO local/ 7am UK).

In what will be a first for fans in the UK, the World Club Challenge will be broadcast free-to-air by Channel 4 and will be part of double header by the broadcaster that day with the Betfred Super League clash between Hull KR and Wigan Warriors live at 1pm.

This will mark the 8th time St Helens have played in the World Club Challenge, with two victories to their name, coming in 2001 and 2007, both against Brisbane Broncos.

Penrith Panthers have previously appeared twice in the World Club Challenge, being beaten by Wigan Warriors (1991) and also being beaten by Bradford Bulls (2004).

Due to St Helens travelling to Australia in early February, their Betfred Super League Round 1 fixture, due to be against Huddersfield Giants, has been postponed until a date later in the season.

The Saints will also take on St George Illawarra Dragons the weekend before as part of the NRL’s pre-season competition and the Saints squad have already arrived in Australia ahead of the game.

Both games counts as St Helens’ two fixtures in the NRL’s ‘Pre-Season Challenge’ where teams compete for a prize of $100,000.

In effect it’s the NRL’s way of making pre-season games competitive with points awarded for wins and certain elements of play such as tries, offloads and line breaks.

Each of the 17 NRL teams, plus St Helens, will play two fixtures with the most points securing the pre-season crown and the $100,000.

Bookmakers in England have priced up the competition and it’s safe to say they don’t fancy the Super League champions at all, pricing them as rank outsiders at 50/1

For context the NRL’s newest side, the Dolphins, who were formed only this off-season and are yet to ever play a game together have been priced at 40/1.

That said Wellens’ focus will likely be on winning the World Club Challenge itself rather than this cash prize.

He has now been handed a huge boost with the fact that star centre Konrad Hurrell can play.

Hurrell was a doubt for the game with his partner due to have a baby however the club confirmed the healthy arrival of Sonny and that Hurrell had now joined the squad in Australia meaning he is ready to take on the Panthers to determine the best side on the planet.

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