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NRL teams to whitewash their Super League hosts in World Club Challenge

Hugo Barnard | February 18, 2016

This year’s World Club Challenge will see the top three Super League teams from last season, St Helens, Wigan Warriors and Leeds Rhinos, face off against the best NRL outfits Sydney Roosters, Brisbane Broncos and North Queensland Cowboys respectively.

St Helens and Sydney start the proceedings on Friday, February 19th, with Wigan playing hosts to Brisbane the following evening at the same time. The series will reach its climax on Sunday, with Super League treble winners Leeds versus NRL champions North Queensland, who will battle it out to earn the prestigious title as the best Rugby League side in the world.

St Helens v Sydney Roosters

  • World Club Challenge series
  • Friday, February 19th
  • Play starts: 20:00 GMT
  • Langtree Park, St Helens
  • Live on Sky Sports 1

Roosters to March over Saints

Sydney Roosters (2/5 odds-on match favourites) will want to put a controversy-filled pre-season behind them by beating St Helens in their own backyard. The Tricolours’ have seen the loss of three stars from their 2015 line-up, including Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Maloney and Michael Jennings.

To make matters worse, club captain and star half back Mitchell Pearce was stood down after being filmed performing a lewd act. On top of that, they are going to be without star prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Vice-captain Boyd Cordner for their World Club Challenge clash.

Jake Friend of Sydney Roosters and Jon Wilkin of St Helens during the launch of the 2016 Dacia World Club Series at Renault Manchester.

Despite this, though, the Roosters are ready to blood their most inexperienced halves combination in their NRL history by playing the incredibly talented duo of Jackson Hastings and Jayden Nikorima, who would like nothing more than to put their critics to bed with a victory on Friday night. Hastings could be a great bet to score anytime with odds at 3/1.

St Helens (21/10 match chances) go into this game with their own problems with the knowledge that their arguably best attacking threat, Mark Percival, will be sidelined for a lengthy period after suffering medial knee ligament damage in the Saints’ embarrassing 44-10 loss at Salford Red Devils.

If St Helens are going to get any sort of result against the Roosters, they are going to need their best finisher Adam Swift on form and you can back him at 6/5 to score at any stage.

This game has the potential to be extremely tight and is likely to go down to the wire, with both teams looking to make fresh starts to their season. Sydney, therefore, are 5/1 to win by 1-5 points.

Wigan Warriors v Brisbane Broncos

  • World Club Challenge series
  • Saturday, February 20th
  • Play starts: 20:00 GMT
  • DW Stadium, Wigan
  • Live on Sky Sports 1

Warriors face uphill battle against Broncos

There is some added spice to this fixture, with the teams having faced each other twice before in World Club Challenge history. While Brisbane came out on top in 1994, the Warriors got their own back two years later, but will also what to avenge their loss in the same competition to the Sydney Roosters last year.

Wigan go into this game being the only in-form Super League team that is participating this year, after managing successive wins in the league versus the Catalans and Huddersfield. The Warriors will also be buoyed with the news that prop Ben Flower has signed a new deal until 2020. Flower infamously was banned for six months after punching St Helens’ Lance Hohaia during the Grand Final that year. Wigan are still match outsiders and the enticing odds of 7/4.

Darius Boyd of Brisbane Broncos and Sean O'Loughlin of Wigan Wigan Warriors, during the launch of the 2016 Dacia World Club Series at Renault Manchester.

However, the Brisbane Broncos starting team just ooze class all across the field, with only four changes to their line-up that narrowly and arguably undeservedly lost in their epic Grand Final against the Cowboys. Brisbane are odds-on favourites at 1/2, and expect them to win by a hefty 11-20 points at 11/4.

Jordan Kahu replaces Jack Reed for the visitors, new signing James Roberts is looking to fill the boots of recently retired Broncos legend Justin Hodges, while Kodi Nikorima starts in the halves for the suspended Ben Hunt. Forward Josh McGuire, meanwhile, returns to the subs bench after suffering his awful Achilles injury last June.

Back new comer centre Roberts to get a try anytime at 5/6, or 9/1 to score first.

Leeds Rhinos v North Queensland Cowboys

  • World Club Challenge final
  • Sunday, February 21st
  • Play starts: 19:00 GMT
  • Headingley, Leeds
  • Live on Sky Sports 1

Cowboys to complete NRL Whitewash and tame Rhinos

They say never bet against Leeds, but on this occasion it is safe to say even this is too much of a test for the Rhinos. After their resounding loss to Widnes at the weekend, which itself was a huge blow to their confidence, matters were made even worse with the loss of three more players to the sidelines to add to their already injury-ridden squad.

Winger Tom Briscoe, full back Ashton Golding and second rower Carl Ablett are the newest names on that list, which already includes Danny McGuire, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Stevie Ward and Beau Falloon. However, you just never know with Leeds and, to back them to win their first World Club Challenge trophy since 2012, they are at 10/3.

2016 Dacia World Club Series Launch - Renault Manchester

North Queensland Cowboys, on the other hand, are aiming to claim the prestigious crown for the first time in their club’s short history, with Leeds having already lifted it three times. They have no injury concerns as of yet, but could be at a disadvantage due to their limited pre-season so far. Despite this, they are still favourites to win at 2/9.

The main on-pitch battle that will leave Rugby League fans drooling across the globe is no doubt between Man of Steel winner Zak Hardaker and three-time World Golden Boot holder Johnathan Thurston. Thurston kicked a 82nd minute field goal in golden point added time to secure the North Queensland Cowboys’ first ever Premiership.

Look no further than the ever-present Rob Burrow to score at anytime for the Rhinos at 7/2. While, for the Cowboys, winger Kyle Feldt could be a very good bet at 4/7 in the same market.

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