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World Club Challenge

Match Preview: Warrington Wolves vs St George Illawarra Dragons

Date: Friday, 20 February
Venue: Halliwell Jones Stadium
Kick-off: 20:00 (UK time)


Wolves 19-man squad: Roy Asotasi, Ryan Atkins, Chris Bridge, Daryl Clark, Ben Currie, Anthony England, Rhys Evans, Ben Harrison, Micky Higham, Chris Hill, James Laithwaite, Joel Monaghan (c), Richie Myler, Gareth O’Brien, Kevin Penny, Stefan Ratchford, Ashton Sims, Ben Westwood, Gary Wheeler

Dragons touring squad: Josh Dugan, Eto Nabuli, Euan Aitken, Peter Mata’utia, Jason Nightingale, Gareth Widdop, Benji Marshall, Rory O’Brien, Mitch Rein, Leeson Ah Mau, Tyson Frizell, Joel Thompson, Ben Creagh (c), Trent Merrin, Jack de Belin, Heath L’Estrange, George Rose, Dane Nielsen, Dylan Farrell, Jake Marketo


Warrington Wolves and St George Illawarra Dragons kick-off the World Club Series this Friday night when the sides meet at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

The Wolves go into the game full of confidence after a 100% start to their Super League campaign, which has seen them only concede three tries in 160 minutes of action.

Stefan Ratchford has been declared fit despite leaving the field just 60 seconds into Warrington’s narrow 7-6 victory against Hull FC last Friday after injuring his shoulder. Ratchford will play at full-back in the continued absence of Matty Russell, and Anthony England returns to the 19-man squad at the expense of fellow prop Ben Evans.

New signing Ashton Sims has made an explosive start to life in the primrose and blue shirt and will line-up for the Wolves on Friday against the team he began his career at. Dragons captain Ben Creagh came through the ranks with Sims and will be looking forward to locking horns with the Fijian forward on Friday.

St George Illawarra have brought over a strong squad for the game, with the only notable absentee being former Wolves player Mike Cooper. The prop forward made 122 appearances for his hometown team before moving to the NRL last season and will miss the clash to be at the birth of his first child.

Full-back Josh Dugan has struggled in the off-season with a knee injury but is expected to feature. Former New Zealand captain Benji Marshall and England international Gareth Widdop are set to feature in the halves and could provide a lethal half-back combination that leads the Dragons to success. Widdop was part of the Melbourne Storm side that won the World Club Challenge in 2013, when they defeated Leeds Rhinos 18-14 in a close encounter at Headingley.

The Dragons finished 11th in the NRL last season but leapt at the opportunity to represent the competition in the series. The Australian side won the 2011 contest after beating Wigan Warriors 21-15 at the DW Stadium and know that a thrilling game on Friday has the potential to increase the club’s international brand.

Paul McGregor’s side will have been in the country for 10 days when the two teams line-up on Friday, giving the players ample time to combat jet-lag and acclimatize to English conditions.

Whilst on paper the result holds little significance, an explosive and physical contest is anticipated, with both sides looking for victory in order to put their respective competition 1-0 up in the World Club Series.

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Trainee sports journalist at News Associates, Manchester, UK.

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