WCC Back On The Agenda

The match had been thrown into doubt after the Broncos said it was too soon after the Gillette Tri-Nations for them to consider fielding a full-strength side, but the NRL Premiers have agreed to take part after the game was moved back three weeks.

This means that the World Club Challenge will take place on Friday the 23rd of February, and will be held in England rather than Australia with Anfield or Goodison Park the preferred venues. 

"We very much wanted to play the match but could not do so on the traditional early February date," said Broncos chief executive Bruno Cullen.

"St Helens and the Rugby Football League have agreed to stage the match a little later this year and that will give us the chance to put together our best possible team and to do the match justice.

"The World Club Challenge is a great concept and it is important that, if we do take part, we do so in a way that properly represents the two Premierships involved."

The game had provisionally been scheduled to be staged down under, presumably at Suncorp Stadium after the Broncos’ Grand Final win, but those plans have been abandoned after Brisbane’s objections.

The game is usually held as a curtain-raiser to the engage Super League, but instead the engage Super League season will begin a week earlier than usual before a one-week break to accommodate the game.

NRL chief operating officer Graham Annesley said he felt the importance of the event was underlined by the willingness of all parties to reach a compromise.

"Since the start of 2000 it has been an annual event and as well as becoming an important part of the rugby league calendar it has also built a strong link between the two competitions.

"The late date this year does necessitate the match being played in the UK again as the Super League season will have actually started, making it impractical for an English team to be in Australia at that time."

The Challenge has been won by the Super League champions six times out of eight since it was re-introduced in 1999.

Leeds Rhinos were able to draw a crowd of over 30,000 for their game with Canterbury Bulldogs at Elland Road two years ago, and the Saints will want to draw a similar crowd to one of Liverpool’s large stadiums.

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