Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson admits he cannot wait to pit his wits against Adrian Lam when his side face Wigan for the World Club Challenge crown.
Lam is well known to Robinson after spending six years at the Roosters as a player, making almost 150 appearances, before working with the club as a coach at age-group level.
Robinson is also well acquainted with Warriors as a former head coach of fellow Super League club Catalans Dragons, who he spent two seasons from 2011-2012.
And with Robinson likely to include Lam’s son Lachlan in his squad, there are plenty of interesting plotlines as the two sides prepare to battle it out for the title of world champions.
“I’m looking forward to coaching against Adrian – it’s been a good step for him,” he said of former Warrior Lam, who is in interim charge of Wigan until Shaun Edwards takes over in 2020.
“I obviously know the reason why with the year in between coaches with Shaun, it’s a good opportunity for Adrian to go over to his former club and continue his coaching.
“He’s been in this area for a long, long time – his son plays in our squad – he’s coached in our system, so I’m sure Adrian’s looking forward to that opportunity as well.
“It’s good to see someone that’s had a hand in some of our players in this game as well.
“If you love the game of rugby league then you’re going to respect it in all tiers, which is why I have a huge respect for Super League, it gave me my start as head coach.
“Outside of myself, Roosters have a strong history in our sport – one of the foundation clubs – so every time the boys pull on the jersey, you’ve got to do it proud.
“That’s what we’ve done each time. Whether it’s 2003, 2014, 16 or now, or even the first World Club Challenge against St Helens in 1976. It’s in our DNA – to perform well when we’re in our jersey.”
Robinson oversaw NRL Premiership champions the last time they met Warriors in the World Club Challenge in 2014, which ended in a 36-14 victory for the Roosters in Australia.
But despite Wigan, four-time World Club Challenge champions, having home advantage this time around Robinson feels confident he knows what his side can expect at the DW Stadium.
“I expect Wigan to be Wigan,” he said. “I’ve coached against them quite a few times over there with the Catalans, played against them in 2014 in World Club Challenge, so I know their players well.
“They were quite vocal the last time we played them in the way that they played that game, so we’re looking forward to going and putting a Roosters side on the park.”
The World Club Challenge was first held in 1976 but did not become a regular fixture until the late 1980s – and Robinson believes the game is crucial for showcasing rugby league.
Roosters will head to Europe in anticipation of the next Sunday’s game,
“We’re definitely happy to be involved in the World Club Challenge,” said Robinson, who will take his side on a trip to France this weekend in anticipation of next Sunday’s game.
“I think that’s one thing in our game – it’s been played for 20 years straight – and every year we have a discussion whether it’s going to be played.
“I think something can be organised between the federations to make it compulsory. We do it anyway, we all want to do it, but having a bit more structure around the October, November conversations that must go on every season.
“We were very keen [to come to Wigan], but also we were really keen, a bit like the France trip, just to showcase rugby league and expand our borders a bit.”
Wigan Warriors take on the Sydney Roosters in World Club Challenge as the world’s two best rugby league sides go head-to-head at the DW Stadium on Sunday February 17th, kick-off 7pm. Secure your seat today by calling the DW Stadium ticket office on 01942 311111 or visiting https://wiganwarriors.com/tickets.
By Andy Barber