World Club Series – Let’s keep it!

rhinos ground switch

Well that’s the World Club Series over for another year, or is it over for good?

The one-sided affairs of 2016 led some to believe that the NRL sides didn’t think it was worth coming over here for little more than a meaningless friendly.

Certainly Melbourne didn’t fancy it, and shame on them. A club with a very solid following in England,  just imagine what a Melbourne v Hull FC game would have been like at a packed out KCOM Stadium on Friday night.

Luckily Brisbane did, but Wayne Bennett could hardly say no to taking his Brisbane players around the world when he wanted his England players to.

Anyway let’s hope Saturday night changed all this. A packed out Halliwell Jones Stadium created a great atmosphere and a tremendous win over the Broncos.

We have to keep this concept going!  I was sceptical at the start,  there isn’t really anything at stake except in the World Club Challenge itself so what’s the point?

Well pride is the point, and lots of it! Pride was at stake on Saturday and Warrington showed bags of it. The Aussies won’t be interested, the truth being we only say this when they lose. It’s pre season and a jolly. Well the Broncos were certainly sent packing that’s for sure.

Nobody said Brisbane weren’t interested last year when they put 40 points on Wigan though do they?

Yes it could do with a squeak here and there,  I wouldn’t play extra time. If it’s a draw it’s a draw,  Wayne Bennett thought that two years ago before being sent back to the dugout.

It’s great to see the top NRL sides over here with their star players and the fans have bought into it,  the crowds have been good for all the games,  over 12000 at the HJ?  What for a friendly? There was Over 20,000 at the DW Stadium in 2015.

Maybe we should take our turn going over there. Way over 30,000 in Sydney watched Wigan play the Roosters in the 2014 World Club Challenge, so the appetite is there in Australia.

We have to promote the sport, the only way to do it is through Inter-League contests. The Four Nations viewing figures showed the appetite is there for international RL, not just at international level but it’s there at club level too.

We have to do whatever it takes to get the top teams over here, and for ours to go over there. It strengthens Super League which in turn will benefit the sport as a whole. It’s not good for the game to have a competition like the NRL which is streets ahead of anything else. It certainly does Super League no good when our best talent leave our shores for the riches available in the NRL .

There will always be a place for the World Club Challenge but let’s hope the will is there for the Series to be included too. Let’s get back to three games next year. If the second and third placed NRL sides don’t want to come then let’s ask the fourth and fifth.

The feeling within Super League is that the NRL clubs aren’t quite so enthusiastic about the World Club Series, which led to Leeds Chief Executive Gary Hetherington’s outburst on the subject earlier in the week.

He said the Super League clubs were doing all they can to expand the concept but it was being met with apathy by clubs in Australia.

Since writing this it became Super League 2-0 NRL with Wigan winning a fourth World Club Challenge against a disappointing Cronulla. How motivated the Sharks were is a matter for them, surely though nobody likes losing.

Wigan were superb in defence and in Joe Burgess they have the best finisher in Super League. Like I said earlier, there is no threat to the World Club Challenge game, there is an appetite for it on both sides of the world and it’s here to say regardless of the whippings our boys sometimes take.

It’s the Series that I was worried about losing until last night, after all we’re onto something here which works in my humble opinion, let’s not give it up because a few games are one sided.

We forgot far too quickly how close Wigan and Warrington were to winning their games in 2015, mainly due to the debacle in 2016. More of the same next year please!