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St Helens set to face St George Illawarra as part of new NRL tournament

Yesterday is was revealed that the NRL is considering a new knockout tournament in pre-season.

The pre-season competition is set to involve all 17 NRL teams and Super League Champions St Helens, who will miss the opening week of the 2023 Super League season due to their commitments in Australia.

Saints trip down under will be headlined by their World Club Challenge clash against NRL Premiership winners Penrith Panthers, with that game to take place on either February 18th or 19th.

However, Paul Wellens’ team will have some serious preparation before their match with the Panthers with the Sydney Morning Herald revealing they will face two other NRL teams as part of the new tournament.

The Herald has now also reported that one of those opponents will be St George Illawarra Dragons, in a match that is set to be marketed as ‘Saints v Saints’ a week prior to the World Club Challenge.

Both teams not only share the same image, but they were are the two most recent clubs of NRL legend and former England captain James Graham who left the Dragons to finish his career at Saints in 2020.

For St Helens, the trip down under will represent a great chance for the ten-time Super League winners to prove they can cut it with the best in Australia’s premier compeition.

It will also provide a great test to new head coach Wellens right at the start of his coaching career, having succeeded Dolphins-bound Kristian Woolf following the 2022 campaign.

Saints have won the last four Super League titles, but this will be the first World Club Challenge since 2020 when they were beaten 20-12 by the Sydney Roosters at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

With chances for Super League teams to take on their NRL counterparts limited of late, this tour now seems likely to give Saints the luxury of not one, but three matches against the best in Australia – how they perform will likely dictate if it ever happens again.

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