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IN MY OPINION: Timing of new concept is crucial
WHILE watching Leeds Rhinos contest the World Club Challenge with Melbourne Storm, I could not help but feel that it should have been Warrington Wolves’ night in the limelight.
Wolves, along with Wigan, have been the most consistent team in Super League for the past two seasons but of course missed out on the right to fight for the world crown when they lost to Leeds in the Grand Final at Old Trafford last October.
But the pre-season friendly with South Sydney Rabbitohs at Redfern Oval in January 2012 has more than whetted the appetite for seeing this talented Wolves side tackle Australia’s best in a game that means something.
So all the talk now of an expanded World Club Challenge format, featuring the top three sides from each hemisphere, is highly relevant to Wolves.
It is good to hear that owner Simon Moran has been playing a role in attempting to warm Australian clubs to the idea because it shows that our club is as pioneering today as it has been throughout history in helping to shape the sport that we love today.
It is no secret that Leeds and Wigan, two of the game’s other current and most consistent trophy holders, are the ones also pushing for the new concept.
I understand that looking at ways to make the game more eyecatching to wider audiences makes great business sense.
And there would surely be benefits to the sport as well as the clubs that take part.
There certainly has to be a duty of care to the British game and its players in all of this.
It would be wrong for the outcome to be a football-style Champions League effect, whereby the consistently top three or four clubs get richer and stronger and leave the others struggling to compete.
An expanded competition would perhaps be more palatable to all if all clubs were to benefit financially from any pot of revenue generated.
And the timing of the event as well as the buy-in from the Australian support base needs to be right for any expansion to succeed.
The current situation of the World Club Challenge being a pre-season game for the Aussie champions is a stumbling block in the credibility of the event with some fans, especially Down Under. So finding a time in the calendar that does not disrupt the domestic competitions remains crucial in my opinion.
I hope the pioneers can find a way.
Wolves versus Melbourne or Manly has a good ring to it!