Ex-NRL players keen to show they’ve still got it in World Club Challenge

Josh McAllister
Curtis Sironen. PA Images

St Helens back-rower Curtis Sironen believes the ex-NRL players in the squad have a point to prove in the World Club Challenge. 

The Australian-born player began his career with Wests Tigers back in 2012, and also featured for Manly Sea Eagles between 2017-2021.

He joined St Helens ahead of the 2022 season, and started in their Grand Final victory over Leeds at Old Trafford, creating history by becoming the first side to claim four successive titles.

Sironen, 29, is a part of the 26-man squad to have travelled over to Australia for the showdown against NRL champions Penrith Panthers.

Having returned home during the off-season, Sironen says he is looking forward to getting a taste of rugby league in Australia again and show NRL supporters that he’s still at his best.

“I went back to visit family straight after the Grand Final for nearly a month. I got home, caught up with everyone then got back a few weeks before pre-season in November. It was good to get home again,” Sironen told Love Rugby League.

“It’ll be good to get another taste of the footy over there. Obviously Penrith are a good team. The trip as a whole is going to be so positive for us leading into the season I think. It’s only going to bring us all together.

“I can remember growing up watching this game. There’s a bit of a stigma at home too because they think the NRL teams are stronger. But I’m so confident in the boys here that we can put up a really good performance too. 

“You go across the whole park, Penrith are a great side full of internationals and we’ve got a strong English contingent.

“There’s a few ex-NRL players here too who want to get home and still sort of show that we’re still about. People might have forgotten about us.

“There’s a lot to prove and it’s going to be a great game.”

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Sironen labels England as his new home, and returns Down Under with all aspirations of winning the World Club Challenge title, before returning to England and pushing for their fifth straight title in Super League.

“This is my home now. We had such a great season winning the Grand Final and now this is the next sort of step,” Sironen continued.

“It’s an honour to get the chance to play in one of these games. At one stage I didn’t think I’d ever get the chance. I’m hoping we go over there and do the job.

“We’re the team to beat this year. We’ll see how we go against the Panthers and then dive straight into the Super League season.

“You can see why the boys are able to back it up year after year. It’s like clockwork. Everyone’s excited and the motivation is still there. I’m looking forward to that.”

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