Boyd Cordner believes England are improving as a force in rugby league as Sydney Roosters prepare to take on Super League champions Wigan in the World Club Challenge.
The Australian second-rower scored the winning try in the Rugby League World Cup final in 2017, when the Kangaroos defeated England in Brisbane to win an 11th world title.
England have since gone on to beat New Zealand in a three-match series in November, while all-time leading try-scorer Ryan Hall was snapped up by Roosters from Super League side Lees Rhinos.
And speaking ahead of the World Club Challenge showdown at the DW Stadium, Cordner is confident that England will only go from strength to strength in the next few years.
“You just have to look at their international squad,” he said. “They’re always strong and had a pretty successful run against New Zealand at the end of the year and had a good World Cup as well.
“We’ve got a lot of great players coming out to the NRL now and we’ve got one at our club Ryan Hall who is a pretty powerhouse winger and it’s great for the game.
“If we can get more English players coming out and vice versa where there’s a lot of NRL players who go over to play in the Super League, I think year by year, it’s getting stronger and stronger.”
Cordner played the last time Roosters faced off against Warriors in the World Club Challenge back in 2014, when the NRL Premiership champions triumphed 36-16 in Australia.
“I was fortunate enough to play in that game when they travelled over here,” he said. “It was a great night. I can remember it being a reward for such a hard season back in the NRL.
“You then get rewarded to go and play World Club Challenge against the best in the world. I can remember it being a great experience for myself and something that I can remember fondly and something I’ll hold onto forever as well.”
But extra spice was added to next Sunday’s clash at the DW Stadium last month when the NRL ran an advert campaign in Atlanta, Georgia, proclaiming the Roosters as ‘World Champions’.
And Cordner is expecting a backlash from the Warriors when the Roosters touch down in Wigan, admitting the billboards were “not ideal” for the Australian side.
“Yeah, I’m aware of the ad campaign,” he said. “I first saw it a couple of weeks ago and that’s just a marketing ploy by the NRL. Obviously, we had nothing to do with it.
“Personally, it’s not ideal, especially with going over in a couple of weeks to play England. Like I said, it was a choice by the NRL to go over and try and expand our game.
“They were trying to create some awareness about the NRL, but we as a club, as the Roosters, can honestly say that we didn’t have any choice in how that went down.”
The DW Stadium has hosted the World Club Challenge final on three occasions and Cordner is looking forward to soaking up the atmosphere as Roosters attempt to match Warriors’ four titles.
“I’ve been lucky enough to travel over to England a couple of times now and play,” he said.
“The atmosphere is unbelievable even though the grounds aren’t the biggest over there.
“But it doesn’t seem like that with the atmosphere that is created, especially when playing against a side like Wigan who have such of rich history in rugby league.
“To go to a rugby league town like that, will be good for not only myself to experience but some of the other Roosters as well.”
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