Super League champions St Helens are hoping to “prove a few people wrong” after they tackle NRL powerhouses Penrith within the World Club Challenge on Saturday at 6.50pm AEDT.
It’ll be the primary time the problem has been performed since early 2020 on account of Covid-inflicted journey restrictions.
St Helens, who misplaced to the Roosters’ within the final World Club Challenge, are not any strangers to success.
They’ve gained the final 4 Super League grand finals, making this recreation a real conflict of Australia and England’s most dominant golf equipment from the previous couple of years.
Watch the brand new look NRL Pre-Season unique to Fox League out there on Kayo Sports. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
St Helens have already had a style of the NRL customary, having overwhelmed the Dragons 30-18 within the first week of the Pre-season Challenge — which they’re additionally competing in whereas in Australia.
But they know the Panthers are a distinct beast with former NRL star Curtis Sironen declaring them “the benchmark of the rugby league world.”
Sironen performed 131 video games over stints with the Wests Tigers and Sea Eagles earlier than linking up with St Helens in 2022.
He’s been maintaining a tally of the NRL although.
Doueihi on the point of Tigers extension | 00:30
“They’ve dominated for the last three years,” Sironen mentioned in regards to the Panthers.
“Playing them in 2020 and 2021, I got to know how good they were and how young they were. I’ve been watching them very closely… They’re just an outstanding club.
“When the Roosters went back-to-back, I didn’t think we’d see it again for a while but they’ve just gone bang. They’ve got this squad that’s getting better and better every year.
“They’re the benchmark of the rugby league world.”
There’s a bit of non-public motivation for Sironen too that may gas him when he runs out onto Bluebet Stadium.
The 29-year-old mentioned the tip to his time at Manly was “really disappointing” as a result of he was “bitten by the injury bug” and “couldn’t get healthy enough to contribute.”
He solely performed six NRL video games in his remaining yr however bounced again in his debut season with St Helens, taking part in 24 video games — essentially the most he’s ever performed in a yr — with no main harm setbacks.
Sironen mentioned “never say never” when requested about an NRL return however reiterated that he nonetheless has one other yr to go on his take care of St Helens.
That doesn’t imply he can’t use this recreation to remind NRL golf equipment — and followers — of what he can provide.
MORE NRL NEWS
‘KIDDING OURSELVES’: Raider’s blunt name as key to breaking title drought emerges
REF’S VIEW: The staggering information displaying simply how few choices referees get unsuitable
OFF-SEASON CENTRAL: How All-Blacks legend helps Cleary hit new heights
WHISPERS: O’Brien opens up on contract tug of conflict with rising Knights star
“There is that little bit of motivation because when you’re out of sight you’re out of mind in our game. If you come back in and play well people say ‘oh that’s right’,” he mentioned.
And as for a staff, Sironen believes it’s a “massive opportunity” to “get a gauge on where we’re really are.”
But it’s additionally an opportunity to silence the Super League’s critics who say the usual of the competitors is worlds behind the NRL.
“We’ll play against the Aussies’ best and show everyone what sort of players are over in England,” he mentioned.
“Hopefully with us being the champions of England we can come and show everyone in Australia that it is a dominant league.
“That’s what we’re aiming to do — to prove a few of the Aussie people wrong.”
St Helens prop and English worldwide Matty Lees is happy for the chance to lastly “prove to everybody how good of a team we are.”
“We’re looking to close that gap and to show Australia that we can actually match with them,” he mentioned.
O’Brien praises depth on the Knights | 00:53
Former Manly and Eels hooker Joey Lussick — who’s now taking part in off the bench for St Helens — is aware of Penrith are the “red-hot favourites,” however he believes his staff has “earnt the right” to be nonetheless be within the dialog.
A giant motive why the Panthers are favourites is as a result of famous person playmaker Nathan Cleary has been named to play.
Sironen singled out the New South Wales and Australian halfback as “the head of the snake” that poses the largest risk to St Helens.
“They’ve got strike all over the park but I think their halves pairing (of Cleary and Jarome Luai), the amount of games they’ve played together now, you see how dominant they are whether it be for NSW or Penrith… I think that’s where you see the penny drops,” he mentioned.
“They’re forward pack is a joke too with (James) Fisher-Harris and guys like that, but Nathan is the head of the snake.”
Lussick is a self-confessed “footy nerd” so has been following the Panthers’ success.
“Penrith have been phenomenal, even when they lost to Melbourne (in 2020) they were still great,” he mentioned.
“A group of them have been building since SG Ball and under 20s, they’ve been the team to beat — they’ve been unstoppable in some way.
“In their final against Souths (last season) they were down 12-nil so just their ability to stay calm. It doesn’t matter what type of game it is, whether it’s a trial or a grand final, they have an ability to play when it counts and stay in the game.”
Get all the most recent NRL news, highlights and evaluation delivered straight to your inbox with Fox Sports Sportmail. Sign up now!!
Aside from Cleary, there’s one other huge problem St Helens will face — the 39-degree-heat in Penrith.
The squad arrived in Australia a few weeks in the past and have settled in at Manly. But the surroundings it’s a staggering distinction to the minus 4 temperature they had been dwelling in again house.
That’s not likely a difficulty for Sironen and Lussick, however for the English gamers like Lees it’s a shock to the system.
“It’s a massive change,” Lees mentioned.
“It’s going to be tough out there being a middle and playing big minutes.”