BRETT Finch has dispelled the myth that Australian teams don’t take the World Club Challenge seriously ahead of tonight’s showcase event.
Rugby league fans’ eyes will be on Headingley this evening for the annual contest between the Super League and NRL champions.
Leeds, beaten 20-6 by the Warriors six days ago, host Manly hoping to break a run of four straight wins by the Australian clubs.
Despite the NRL’s recent dominance in the contest, some still believe the World Club Challenge does not rank highly among their ambitions.
But Finch – a two-time winner of the trophy – insists that is not true.
He said: “I know we took it extremely seriously.
“I don’t know why people say that, because rugby league players want to win every game they’re involved in, and certainly the important games.
“I was involved in two World Club wins and I hold them up there as big achievements in my career. I never got the chance to come on a Kangaroos tour, so those experiences are up there, for sure.
“The chance to be called the best club side in the world is a big honour.”
Finch missed last year’s event with Wigan because of a neck injury which delayed his debut campaign in Super League. But he won the World Club Challenge with Sydney Roosters, in 2003 against St Helens, and Melbourne in 2010 – beating tonight’s hosts Leeds.
Despite the travel, change in climate and venue, bookmakers have installed Manly as favourites – and Finch agrees with their assessment. “I’ll go Manly,” he said. “Leeds have got home turf and they’re a good side. But I just think if they’re at their best, Manly will be hard to beat.
“They’re a very good side. They’ve been consistently one of the best sides for five or six years, they have a real good mix of young talent and experience.
“I know people will talk about the travel factor, but the sports science departments go into great detail about when you should sleep on the plane and things like that – they’ll have all that covered.”