St Helens v Penrith Panthers: Squad news, TV coverage & predictions

Drew Darbyshire
Tommy Makinson St Helens SWpix

Here is everything you need to know about St Helens’ World Club Challenge against Penrith Panthers, including squad news, TV coverage and our predictions.

St Helens got off to a winning start on their trip Down Under with a 30-18 victory over St George Illawarra Dragons last Saturday.

But they will need to go up another level this Saturday against Penrith Panthers, who have won back-to-back NRL Premierships.

The World Club Challenge takes place at Penrith’s BlueBet Stadium at 6:50pm local (7:50am UK). The kick-off time has been knocked back due to the expected extreme heat.

The decision to delay the kick-off time was made due to safety concerns around the forecasted heat and humidity in regional NSW and Western Sydney.

The World Club Challenge will be shown live on Sky Sports, Channel 4 and Watch NRL.

St Helens squad news

The Saints will welcome back Morgan Knowles for the match. The England enforcer was forced to sit out of last week’s win over the Dragons through illness.

But on the team lists named via the NRL website, the 17th man for St Helens hasn’t been filled. Joe Batchelor, who was spotted wearing a protective boot at half-time in last week’s game, has not been named on the full squad list.

Speaking after last week’s match, head coach Paul Wellens said it was just as a precaution but there has been no further update. Wellens is due to talk to the media on Wednesday.

England winger Tommy Makinson suffered a cork in Wollongong last week but he’s been named to start on the wing.

As for Penrith, they will be without star full-back Dylan Edwards and World Cup-winning forward Liam Martin.

But the Panthers’ 1-8 who have been named all played in last year’s World Cup. Samoa star Stephen Crichton has been named to start at full-back, with Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary in the halves.

Samoa trio Taylan May, Izack Tago and Brian To’o are in the backline, with Fijian ace Sunia Turuva at centre.

Penrith will start with a powerhouse front-row pairing of Moses Leota and James Fisher-Harris, who both represented New Zealand at the World Cup.

And there’s a surprise spot on the bench for ex-Huddersfield playmaker Jack Cogger, who linked up with the Panthers in the off-season.

Match details

When: Saturday, 6:50pm local, 7:50am UK

Where: BlueBet Stadium, Penrith

How to watch: Sky Sports Main Event, Arena & Mix/Channel 4/Watch NRL

Team lists

Panthers: Crichton; May, Tago, Turuva, To’o; Luai, Cleary; Leota, Kenny, Fisher-Harris, Garner, Hosking, Yeo. Subs: Cogger, Eisenhuth, Leniu, Salmon. Reserves: Smith, Falls, Henry, Jenkins, Geyer.

Saints: Welsby; Makinson, Hopoate, Percival, Bennison; Lomax, Dodd; Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Mata’utia, Sironen, Knowles. Subs: Lussick, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Paasi. Reserves: Wingfield, Bell, Norman, Davies, Hurrell, Ritson.

Prediction: St Helens have been the benchmark team in Super League for several years now, but it’s hard to look past a star-studded Penrith team on home soil. The extreme heat is expected to play a huge role on Saturday night, and the Panthers are more accustomed to it. Penrith by 14.

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