Paul Sculthorpe delivers verdict on World Club Challenge
Paul Sculthorpe believes St Helens are capable of winning the World Club Challenge, but insists his former club need to be at their best to beat Penrith.
The Super League champions meet their NRL counterparts at the BlueBet Stadium on Saturday. The winner will be crowned the world’s best club side.
Sculthorpe, a two-time winner of the World Club Challenge, has delivered his verdict on the mouth-watering clash.
He said: “Saints have had a couple of friendlies, but it’s a whole different ball game on Saturday.
“I think for Saints to win it, they have got to be at their best. But also, it’s a great time to catch Penrith, they have got to start quick and get in their faces and upset them.
“They have a lot of talented players but so do Saints. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to beat them at what they do, play the Saints way and play some rugby.”
Will the weather play a part?
The kick-off time for Saturday’s World Club Challenge between St Helens and Penrith Panthers has been knocked back due to the expected extreme heat. It will now kick-off 50 minutes later at the time of 6:50pm local time (7:50am UK).
The decision was made due to player safety concerns around the forecasted heat and humidity in regional NSW and Western Sydney.
The game will be played in quarters, with water breaks factored in. Each team is allowed one extra sub each, with two extra interchanges allowed.
But Sculthorpe doesn’t think the heat will have too much of an impact on the travelling Saints.
He said: “It’s going to be warm. The guys have been over there for a couple of weeks, they are acclimatised.
“But if you can’t get up for a game like that in mid 30 degrees in Australia, playing in front of the world, you’re in the wrong game.
“I think players are used to it, like playing in the peak of summer over here. Going to Catalans in July and August is just as warm and I think they will be thriving off it.
“You see the boys over on the beaches in Australia and I’m sure they are thoroughly enjoying it. It’s going to be warm but they are fit athletes. They have just got to adapt to the conditions that are thrown at them.”
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Paul Sculthorpe: History goes out of the window
Only one team from Super League has won the World Club Challenge in the last decade. Wigan beat Cronulla Sharks 22-6 at the DW Stadium back in 2017.
Meanwhile, Penrith have never won it. But Sculthorpe says none of the matter when it comes down to it.
He added: “They are World Club challengers, it’s a one-off occasion. I don’t think you can refer to history books or whatever.
“We’ve all had our successes, both English and Aussie teams, so I don’t think history tells us anything apart from the 80 minutes.
“I really hope the best for Saints with my Saints hat on but also for the Super League and British rugby league that we do ourselves proud.”
St Helens will be without key forward Joe Batchelor for the game though. The England international requires surgery on an ankle injury he suffered in their 30-18 win over St George Illawarra Dragons last weekend.
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