The Sydney Roosters have been warned Wigan’s elaborate preparation for Saturday’s World Club Challenge is proof of just how much they want to topple the NRL premiers in their own backyard.
Roosters assistant coach Steve McNamara – England’s Test mentor – says they can expect to face a huge physical challenge from a fired-up Wigan, who’ll have over 2000 of their own fans cheering them on at Allianz Stadium.
Super League champions Wigan have a proud history in World Club Challenge, beating Manly in 1987 and stunning star-studded Brisbane 20 years ago at QE2 Stadium – the last time the fixture was held on Australian soil.
Wigan moved their opening fixture of the season forward a week, allowing them to travel to New Zealand for a week to acclimatise and play a trial match against the NRL’s Warriors.
And they’re spending this week training with and against South Sydney – who play the Roosters in round of the NRL season – at Redfern Oval.
“The World Club Challenge in England is massive, there is huge emphasis put on it,” McNamara told AAP.
“If you see the preparation Wigan have put into it, it proves how much they want to to win this game. It’s going to be a great occasion.”
McNamara had five Wigan players in his England World Cup squad late last year, with bulldozing winger Josh Charnley and outstanding back-rower Sean O’Loughlin part of the team that lost in heartbreaking fashion 20-18 to New Zealand in their semi-final at Wembley.
However, he says he hasn’t needed to give Roosters coach Trent Robinson and the rest of the staff too much information about their opponents.
“Wigan are very good team, well coached and have a world class performer in Sean O’Loughlin,” he said.
“I have spoken to Trent and Craig Fitzgibbon about certain things, but to be honest they know all about them.
“Robbo coached Catalans for two years and would have come up against Wigan several times and Fitzy spent two years playing with Hull.
“I know they have great respect for them as a team but we have a fair bit of information on them and will be ready.”
A crowd of over 30,000 is expected for the game and McNamara said it was a great opportunity to showcase international rugby league.
He wants to see more teams come down to play in Australia.
“International rugby league is superb as we saw at the World Cup,” he said.
“To have the best team in England coming over to play against the best team in Australia in front of a big crowd, it’s something to really cherish.”