Penrith say St Helens never had any genuine intent to arrange World Club Challenge

Steven Hughes
Penrith Panthers NRL

NRL champions Penrith have rejected reports that they ignored World Club Challenge communications from Super League counterparts St Helens.

A recent report in Leeds Live said St Helens had made several attempts to contact both the Panthers and the NRL and those were ignored.

However, Penrith have responded saying they have not had any correspondence from Saints since the end of the 2021 season.

The Panthers beat South Sydney 14-12 in the final to lift their third Premiership. Meanwhile, St Helens were 12-10 victors over Catalans to record their third straight Super League title.

There had been hope that the competition would return in 2022. The 2021 event scheduled to take place between the Saints and Melbourne, but was postponed because of the pandemic.

Saints also took part in the last World Club Challenge, where they beaten 20-12 by Sydney Roosters. This was just before the pandemic hit in 2020. That was their seventh time playing in the competition; they have won it twice in 2001 and 2007.

Meanwhile, it would have been Penrith’s third appearance in the competition. They lost both of their previous matches against Wigan in 1991, and Bradford in 2004.

Penrith say World Club Challenge “is not a realistic proposition”

A club source told Love Rugby League: “Unfortunately due to the significant logistical issues created by the pandemic, it is clear the World Club Challenge is not a realistic proposition at this point.

“Panthers also rejects a recent report that the club has ignored communications from St Helens.

“I can confirm Panthers CEO Brian Fletcher and GM Matt Cameron have received no correspondence from any St Helens representative since the end of the 2021 NRL season.

“Which suggests to me there was never any genuine intent to organise the fixture.”

St Helens have been outspoken in their desire to play the game since securing their third successive title in October.

But with no prospect of the game now taking place; it appears the only prospect of a battle between the two is via the media.

Previous reports Down Under seemed to suggest that Fletcher had opened up an invite for Saints to play the game in Australia.

Before Christmas, coach Kristian Woolf said: “There’s been no official conversation whatsoever other than a couple of throwaway lines in the media.

“From our point of view there’s been no formal approach or discussions about if a game were to be played in Australia, how that would be funded or how it would fit in with the Super League schedule.

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