Cronulla playmaker James Maloney says the fear becoming the first NRL team in five years to lose the World Club Challenge final is all the motivation the Sharks need when facing Wigan.
Australian teams have dominated their Super League opponents over the last eight years with only Manly succumbing to their English opponents when they lost to Leeds in 2012.
Melbourne, Sydney Roosters, South Sydney and North Queensland have all followed up their NRL premiership successes with victory in the match to decide the world’s best club side in recent years and Maloney said the Sharks don’t want to break the trend.
“It’s a huge motivation,” Maloney told AAP.
“This club has taken huge strides forwards by winning the premiership and to become the best team in the world is something that would complete an amazing 12 months.”
“The NRL teams have done well in this over the last few years, we don’t want to be the team that lets that record slide.”
Maloney, who acquainted himself with cricket great Shane Warne on the flight to London, has already tasted success over Wigan in a World Club Challenge when playing for the Roosters in 2014.
That match was played at Allianz Stadium and saw the hosts run out comfortable 36-14 winners but Maloney is expected the score to be much closer at the DW Stadium on Sunday (0200 Monday AEDT) and said the team’s day trip to Paris on Wednesday was not a sign of complacency.
“They’ll be roared on by a passionate home crowd and we know how much this game means to the English teams,” he said.
“We’re not here for a holiday, we’ve trained hard and this match is an important part of our pre-season preparations.
“It was nice to see a part of the world that many of the boys have not seen and it was a scheduled day off and only a short trip on the train and good to spend some time together.”
Maloney admits he was unsure if Warne initially knew who he was when he met him on the plane, but enjoyed having a long chat with the leg-spinning legend.
“It was great to have a yarn with Warney,” he said.
“He’s a bit of a hero of mine. It was funny because I think he thought the camera crews that were waiting for us at the airport were for him.”