The pride of England’s Super League goes on the line this weekend, with the northern hemisphere competition desperate to avoid a repeat of last year’s World Club series sweep by their NRL counterparts.
English teams were competitive without being successful in the tournament’s inaugural year 12 months ago, with both Wigan and Warrington falling just short of toppling Brisbane and St George Illawarra respectively, before South Sydney produced a record 39-0 thrashing of St Helens in the World Club Challenge.
There are fears of an even more severe drubbing this time around, with both St Helens and Leeds entering the weekend off the back of domestic thrashings ahead of their fixtures with the Sydney Roosters and NRL premiers North Queensland.
Wigan are the only England team retaining a modicum of good form, having won their opening two fixtures of the Super League season, though coach Shaun Wane admits both victories were of the “ugly variety”.
“They’ve been ugly wins for us, but I know we will hit form and we need to hit form against a really good Brisbane team,” Wane told AAP.
“I’m still pretty devastated with what happened last year”.
And he says the trio of English heavyweights owe it to the competition they represent to put in a better showing than last year.
“It did hurt and I don’t think it looked that good on our competition,” Wane told AAP.
“I know we have a strong competition but to lose three-nil, no matter how close we came and Warrington came – and we both gave a good account of ourselves, but the fact is we didn’t win any of them and it was a 3-0 drubbing.
“I’m pretty motivated that this weekend we do our bit and win our game.
“I’m sure (Leeds coach) Brian (McDermott) and (St Helens’) Kieron (Cunningham) will feel the same way.
“It did hurt us, or certainly me personally. We need to make sure Australia sees the best of us this weekend and hopefully we can get more than one or two wins.”