Adrian Morley believes front row firepower can propel St Helens to glory in Saturday’s Betfred World Club Challenge.
Saints take on reigning NRL champions Sydney Roosters at the Totally Wicked Stadium in the prestigious competition, as the premier sides in England and Australia go toe-to-toe in the 28th edition of the event.
Morley, once a Rooster himself, made 114 appearances for the outfit between 2001 and 2006, scoring in the 2003 World Club Challenge as they toppled St Helens in Bolton.
And the 42-year-old, an ex-front row himself, believes the dynamic duo of Alex Walmsley and Luke Thompson could be too hot for the four-time champions to handle.
“I think in St Helens’ ranks they’ve got the two best front rows in Super League in Alex and Luke,” he said.
“They were absolutely outstanding in the Grand Final against Salford Red Devils last year.
“For St Helens to have a chance, those two boys need to stand up – they’ve taken other Super League teams apart, so it will be interesting to see how they go against a quite formidable outfit in the Roosters.
“I’m really excited to see if St Helens can be as dominant with the champions of Australia as they have been with all the Super League clubs.
“I know for a fact the Sydney Roosters take this competition very seriously, they’re not just coming over to make the numbers up, so it should be a great game.
“If the Roosters get the win, they obviously become the team who have won the competition the most times, and I know they’d love that on their resume, so it makes for a really compelling game.”
Roosters have lifted the World Club Challenge trophy a joint-record four times, sitting top of the tree with Wigan Warriors and now bidding to seize the title outright.
But they will face stiff opposition in a St Helens side who blew away Salford Red Devils 23-6 in last season’s Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford.
And under new head coach Kristian Woolf – who had previously enjoyed an impressive stint as Tonga boss – Morley believes the English team could have what it takes.
“When St Helens got a new head coach there were question marks about whether or not they’d be as successful,” he added.
“But apart from their hiccup at Warrington Wolves they’ve been absolutely fantastic again this year – beating Salford at home and then a really impressive win away at Hull FC.
“They’re going to go into this game very, very confident – it normally takes a while for players to learn how the new coach is going to coach and for him to learn how the players play, but he seems to have taken it in his stride, so I can’t see there being too many issues there.”
The Betfred World Club Challenge is a huge night in Rugby League which sees the Super League Champions, St Helens take on the NRL Champions, Sydney Roosters. This year’s contest takes place at the Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens on Saturday 22 February (7:45pm KO). Secure your seat by visiting https://tickets.