The World Club Challenge is a one-off rugby league fixture, pitting the winners of the Super League Grand Final against the NRL Grand Final champions. A yearly occurrence and the only chance both halves of the hemisphere have to prove their global superiority at the domestic level. This year sees Saint Helens host the Sydney Roosters.
1: Roosters going for record breaking back-to-back win
No team has ever won the World Club Challenge back-to-back in the competition’s 34-year history. Sydney, who triumphed over Canberra Raiders in the NRL Grand Final, will have big hopes of clinching their fifth World Club Challenge title, making them the most successful side in the history of the fixture. However, they will have to do it without some big names after some turnover in the off-season.
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Siosiua Taukeiaho are one of the better prop pairings in the NRL, with a high work-rate and devastating carrying from one-out plays.
However, they face arguably two of the best props in the world in NRL-bound Luke Thompson and Alex Walmsley.
The Saints duo form a dangerous tandem, both consistently eating yards (and defenders) on every carry. Between them this season they already have three tries, proving they can do the damage at the business end of the pitch. For fans of attritional, damaging rugby league, this is the match-up to watch.
3: Two of the best finishers in world rugby
Tommy Makinson and James Tedesco are very different players. Tedesco is quite rightly lauded as the best fullback in the game currently and consistently delivers in the biggest moments. Just last season, he scored the winning try in the 79th minute of Game three of Origin, while also scoring the winning try in the Grand Final.
Makinson on the other hand is better known as a winger, but he scores tries at a rate rarely seen before. Reigning Super League top scorer, the Saints winger finds more and more outrageous ways to score, making him blockbuster viewing. In 2018 he was awarded the World Golden Boot Award, ahead of Tedesco.
Both players have an innate ability to score when their team needs them most, and will be players to keep an eye on should the game need a moment of magic.
4: Lomax v Keary
While Jonny Lomax is a bit more of a utility player than Luke Keary, it is undeniable that both these men make their teams tick. Lomax already has six assists this season for Saints, while Keary will have a lot of responsibility placed on him now Cooper Cronk has retired.
Keary has experience at the top tier of the game, winning three NRL titles and picking up a Clive Churchill medal in the 2018 Grand Final, while Lomax is irreplaceable for Saints when he’s firing. Both players will look to test the defense early and both are capable of finding gaps that shouldn’t exist.
5: It’s the two best teams in rugby league.
Simply put, it’s the best from the northern hemisphere against the best from down under. While there have only been two northern hemisphere winners since 2008, the fixture gives players and fans the opportunity to see how closely matched the leagues are, despite the impression that the NRL is a cut above.
Saints will be eager to avenge their previous performance here, where they lost to another Sydney side, Souths, 39-0, while Roosters will be looking to retain the trophy for the first time ever.
Expect fireworks, ferocity and a true advert for the game.