Back the World Club Challenge or get out of the way

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    Manly Sea Eagles' Brett Stewart scores a try during their World Club Challenge rugby league match against Leeds Rhinos at Elland Road Stadium, Leeds, England, Sunday, March 1, 2009. AP Photo/Paul Thomas

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    There are only 38 more days until the annual World Club Challenge. As is the case every year, like clockwork, haters come out of the woodwork.

    Some will tell you it means nothing. An event played in England for the English. A game where the National Rugby League premiers lob up in holiday mode and jog around for 80 minutes with both eyes squarely on the new NRL season.

    Give me a break!

    Playing in the World Club Challenge is a privilege, not a chore. Granted some Australian teams haven’t taken it seriously in the past. Some have taken weakened sides and paid the price.

    But history suggests that the majority of teams that respected the concept and have taken strong squads have been rewarded by either winning the trophy or returning to Australia hardened for the season ahead.

    Those sides who rested players or didn’t take it seriously have returned and spluttered through the following NRL season.

    If you are going to blame this event for a lacklustre start to your team’s NRL season, then give it credit for strengthening a team’s resolve, too.

    In 2003 the Sydney Roosters destroyed St Helens 38-0. Brad Fittler’s men would make it all the way to the 2004 NRL decider before falling to the Canterbury Bulldogs.

    The following three seasons saw the Bulldogs, Penrith Panthers and Wests Tigers take weakened teams across and get flogged.

    These sides didn’t struggle in the following NRL season because they had to travel to the United Kingdom. They struggled because the NRL is the toughest competition of any sport on this planet.

    Brisbane Broncos and the Melbourne Storm took their matches seriously in 2007 and 2008 respectively and narrowly lost classic battles to their opposition.

    What was there excuse? NRL sides won the next three WCC matches, by the way.

    English fans watch the NRL just as intently as they watch the Super League. Once a year, they get to the see our champions.

    We need to realise that this annual clash has a special part to play on the rugby league calendar and not something teams “have to do”.

    Like it or not, this sport we love isn’t just played in Australia by Australians.

    If Super League fans are going to continue forking out their own hard earned to see our NRL premiers, we need to keep playing this game.

    On February 22 the Leeds Rhinos will host the Melbourne Storm. The fire has been lit for yet another brutal WCC with Golden Boot winner Kevin Sinfield taking a shot at all Aussies.

    “The Australians probably think the NRL competition is far superior to Super League,” Sinfield told BBC Sport.

    “Whether they rate me or not I am not sure, but with a lot of the Australians they rate themselves very highly.

    “I am not bothered or interested in what they say. If they want to have a crack then they can fire away.”

    Ask and you shall receive, pal. It might mean nothing to you, but it means plenty to a lot of other people.

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    The Crowd Says (27)

    • January 15th 2013 @ 7:25am
      eagleJack said | January 15th 2013 @ 7:25am | ! Report

      I don’t think people who offer constructive criticism on ways to improve the WCC should be labelled “haters”.

      Or are you saying, Curtis, that the the concept in its current state is perfect?

      • Roar Guru

        January 15th 2013 @ 12:13pm
        Curtis Woodward said | January 15th 2013 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

        Nothing in any state is perfect. But just because it isn’t perfect doesn’t mean you can’t support it.

    • January 15th 2013 @ 7:32am
      Johnno said | January 15th 2013 @ 7:32am | ! Report

      I much preferred the early 1990’s world club challenges , where the Bronco’s went over . Both Broncos, and Wigan, had 2 of the best rugby league teams ever assembled. Loved there matches, both in OZ at the old QE2 stadium in Brisbane, and in Wigan.
      Some of my favourite rugby league matches ever were those Bronco’s and Wigan duels. Inga Tui’gamala in is prime, Tallis too, Gary Connolly, and many other stars, top class highly enjoyable rugby league. Some good buffs too, just ask Tallis and Terry O’connor.
      I like it better when bit teams are in season or the timing is right.

      the current format just ain’t working for aussy teams. it’s all advantages and favours to England teams right now.

      -Current format is played during England’s early season, so they have had 2 sometimes 3 rounds under there belt
      -Aussy teams have to fly over there while still in pre-season and play at grand final intensity

      But it does promote the game especially in England no doubt about it. And good in a world cup year like this year too, which is being held in England.

      But i’d like to see the format changed. Every 2nd year England club team come out, and they will just have to get one less bye or something, or play 1 mid week game in the season, .

      • Roar Guru

        January 15th 2013 @ 12:14pm
        Curtis Woodward said | January 15th 2013 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

        Those Wigan/Broncos games were fierce!

    • January 15th 2013 @ 8:37am
      oikee said | January 15th 2013 @ 8:37am | ! Report

      Another fine post Curtis, i have my money on the Rhinos, they are a very good team.

      • Roar Guru

        January 15th 2013 @ 12:14pm
        Curtis Woodward said | January 15th 2013 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

        Definetely a good Rhinos team. Will be very tight.

    • January 15th 2013 @ 8:40am
      siv said | January 15th 2013 @ 8:40am | ! Report

      The WCC should be played in the 3rd week of Oct so Grand Final squads can compete. Rather than players still trialing for their new club

    • January 15th 2013 @ 8:56am
      turbodewd said | January 15th 2013 @ 8:56am | ! Report

      Does anyone invite their mates over to watch the WCC? No. Nuff said really…

    • January 15th 2013 @ 9:25am
      Morfs said | January 15th 2013 @ 9:25am | ! Report

      I’m mostly just annoyed by the fact that my team is playing but I won’t get to attend the game as I can’t afford to take the time off work to fly to England for it. Surely Leeds have hosted enough of these matches for it to be reasonable to hold the game in Australia this year?

      ……Yes, I am aware that the real reason is due to money & disagreements between the respective associations, etc, but I’m still miffed.

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