The best Rugby League players in the world will collide in 2015 in a newly-expanded six-team World Club Series.
The annual clash between the First Utility Super League champions and the Telstra NRL Premiers will again take centre stage next February. But in 2015 the two grand final winners will be joined by two other clubs from each competition.
The World Club Series will be played in the United Kingdom over three days, from Friday February 20 to Sunday February 22, climaxing in the World Club Challenge to determine the world’s best club Rugby League team.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs and Brisbane Broncos have already confirmed their involvement in the World Club Series, even if they do not win this year’s NRL Grand Final.
Other NRL clubs have expressed interest in joining this year’s Premiers in taking part in the challenge.
Super League will be represented by the 2014 Grand Finalists plus the third highest ranked team from the Northern Hemisphere competition.
The World Club Series will be the first time that Australia’s best players have played in the UK since the Kangaroos won last year’s World Cup final.
And with some of England’s top players, including Sam Tomkins (New Zealand Warriors), James Graham (Canterbury Bulldogs) and brothers Luke, Tom and George Burgess (South Sydney) all involved in the NRL title race, the World Club Series could see the return to England of some of the country’s sporting heroes.
The expanded World Club Series has already been welcomed by players and officials from England and Australia.
Wigan Warriors captain Sean O’Loughlin said he has proud memories of taking part in the World Club Challenge.
“Having played in a couple of World Club Challenge games during my career I know just how good it is to test ourselves against the best club sides from the NRL,” he said.
“The new expanded competition looks very exciting and we can’t wait to be a part of it.”
NRL Head of Football, Todd Greenberg said the expanded series would add even greater interest to the annual contest for the title of “best club side in the world”.
“Australian fans already love seeing the Premiers go up against the best of Britain – but having three teams from each competition will really add to the excitement,” he said.
Super League General Manager Blake Solly said: “We are delighted to be hosting the World Club Series here in England, and are very excited about the opportunity to build and expand on what is an already outstanding concept.
“It is a chance for the teams to go head-to-head in battle before huge crowds to show which is the best competition and who are the best clubs in the world.”
The schedule and ticketing details will be announced later this year once the identity of the clubs involved is confirmed.