PREVIEW: 2015 World Club Challenge

World Club Challenge

St Helens v Rabbitohs

Langtree Park, UK

 

The World Club Challenge match will be broadcast live on GEM with coverage beginning at 5:30am on Monday 23rd (AEDT).

 

For South Sydney, after 107 years of history, the chance to become world champions has now arrived. Standing between them and the World Club Challenge trophy though are St Helens – a club well-versed in the challenge, having appeared in the all-important match on five occasions, coming away with two crowns.

The historic ramifications haven’t been lost on either of the Coaches – Rabbitohs Head Coach, Michael Maguire, or St Helens Coach Kieron Cunningham in the lead-up to the match.

"We've got a very historic club and to be a part of Souths is very special, and to coach is a very special thing to (do) as well," Maguire told AAP.

"But to be the first team that's been across here in the World Club Challenge would be something else.

"I see the World Club Challenge as a great honour and the trophy there that's available is a big one that we want in our cabinet.”

Cunningham meanwhile described the chance to play South Sydney as the proudest moment of his illustrious career.

"I won't have had a prouder moment as a St Helens boy than seeing Souths walk out on to Langtree Park,” the Saints mentor told Saint Helens’ official wesbite.

“It is an honour for us to be rubbing shoulders with these giants of the game.

“Souths are a fantastic team; I look at Michael Maguire as a coaching idol. He has done well in his career and to go back to Australia and do the same with Souths was phenomenal.

"It will be good for me to pit my wits against him and learn some things too. I now have the opportunity as a coach to see a great team play against the best team in the world."

The Rabbitohs earned themselves the right to compete in their first World Club Challenge after tasting Premiership success in last year’s Grand Final for the first time since 1971, amid unprecedented scenes of euphoria across Sydney. The side has since backed up the effort by taking out the Auckland Nines Tournament, and retaining the Charity Shield with a team largely made up of up and comers in a true show of the depth and grit at Michael Maguire’s disposal.

Maguire’s men arrived in the UK on Monday, before proceeding to have opposed sessions with the Wigan Warriors in preparation for what will essentially be their first hit-out at full strength in 2015.

But while this will be the first chance for South Sydney’s big guns, such as Greg Inglis, Adam Reynolds etc. to play together in 2015, St Helens by contrast are already two games into their Premiership defence and have developed a level of match-fitness and combinations that could be missing from the Rabbitohs line up this early in the year. The question everyone will be asking is, will the Rabbitohs’ 2015 game-time be enough to beat the battle-hardened Brits?

Michael Maguire has named all 20 members of his touring squad for the clash (three to be omitted by kick-off) – a squad that includes 11 members of last year’s Grand Final team, plus the inclusion of new recruits such as Glenn Stewart, Tim Grant and Daryl Millard.

For Rabbitohs skipper, Greg Inglis, while every attempt has been made by his side to ‘know their enemy’ in the weeks leading up to the match, St Helens are still very much an unknown quantity.

"We've got a lot of young guys who probably don't even watch Super League," Inglis told AAP this week.

"But we've got to keep working hard and doing our homework on them."

GI pointed to Saints hooker, James Roby as a key to the side’s recent success – a player who has been compared to Cameron Smith as well as Rabbitohs hooker, Issac Luke.

"I think James Roby is one of the key players for them," he said.

"If he can get their forwards going forward, they're going to be hard to top. Every man who takes that field is a danger. And the brand of footy, because they play so well together, just makes it even more dangerous.

"We know we've got a challenge ahead of us."

 

The World Club Challenge match will be broadcast live on GEM with coverage beginning at 5:30am on Monday 23rd (AEDT).

 

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