Wigan legend Denis Betts believes the Engage Super League champions can rise to the heights of Wigan teams of old when they take on NRL Premiers St George Illawarra Dragons in the PROBIZ World Club Challenge on Sunday (7.15).
The former Great Britain international and current Widnes Vikings coach was part of Wigan’s last World Club Challenge success in 1994, when arguably the best Wigan team of all time defeated Brisbane Broncos.
Betts will be providing local radio commentary for this year’s PROBIZ World Club Challenge and expects to rekindle some fond memories.
“Playing in the World Club Challenge was one of the most surreal experiences of my career,” said the former Man of Steel.
“There was always a distraction when it was played because the game fell in the middle of one competition and during the off-season for the other. Meaning that one side always had the excuse of being out of match shape but that is not the case anymore and I think it’s great for both teams.
“Having the best of one competition playing against the best of the other is a fantastic concept. I have played in a few World Club Challenges in my career and they are some of my best memories.
“The win in Brisbane is probably the most outstanding memory of my entire career. We went there as complete underdogs and no one was giving us a chance but we proved all the critics wrong in what was a fantastic game.
“I was also involved in the squad in 1987 although I didn’t get to play. At that time, there was an aura around the Aussies, there was not as much television coverage then and we did not play against Australia on such a regular basis so they were hyped up in the press and they had this great reputation.
“That’s gone from the game now because so many of Australia’s best players come over to Super League and also with the two countries meeting on the international field regularly, there isn’t that sort of intimidation factor.
“I’m glad to see Wigan back competing in the World Club Challenge. Michael Maguire has done a wonderful job at the club to form the glue to keep that side together and they were outstanding last season. If they can repeat similar performances again in 2011, they’ll be hard to stop for any side and I think the World Club Challenge will be theirs.”