Warriors bosses ‘expect’ World Club Challenge Sydney fixture

Wigan Warriors' Sean O'Loughlin tackles St George Illawarra Dragons' Jason Nightingale during the World Club Challenge match at the DW Stadium in February 2011
Wigan Warriors' Sean O'Loughlin tackles St George Illawarra Dragons' Jason Nightingale during the World Club Challenge match at the DW Stadium in February 2011
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THERE is an “expectation” that Wigan will travel to play the World Club Challenge in Sydney – but fans shouldn’t book their flights just yet.

The annual showdown between the Super League and NRL champions has been pencilled in for the weekend of February 22 at the Allianz Stadium, the Roosters’ home ground.

The Evening Post revealed on Monday plans to take the match Down Under.

Talks are taking place between four parties – both clubs, and their respective leagues. Though they all appear to want the same outcome, the final decision may hinge on how much revenue the fixture will generate.

Wigan may also need to postpone two Super League matches to take part in the game.

Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan said: “I would love the World Club Challenge to be staged in Australia, and there is an expectation that Wigan will travel to Sydney.

“Hopefully that’s the case – but it will depend on timing and negotiations. It’s important to make sure we both compete and capitalise on it.”

Asked who was responsible for making the decision, he replied: “It’s a combination of the four. We’ll speak to the RFL and they’ll talk at their end.

“But I’ve been involved in this before, so I’ve some experience of it.”

Lenagan – who watched Wigan claim Grand Final glory with a 30-16 win over Warrington – has long called for the early-season match to be moved Down Under.

Since the concept was revived in 2000, all have been played in England – including Wigan’s 15-21 loss against St George Illawarra in early 2011.

Taking this game Down Under would suit the Roosters, as they compete in the new NRL nines competition in Auckland the previous week.

And it would be fitting for Wigan, too, marking two decades since their famous victory on Australian soil when they overcame a star-studded Brisbane Broncos side.

The Cherry and Whites also played in Sydney two years earlier, winning the World Sevens.

“Nothing is finalised yet but our early discussions with Super League have been around the feasibility of playing the World Club Challenge in Australia,” said Andrew Hill, NRL general manager told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.

“There is a strong consideration for the game to be played in Australia.”