World Club Challenge Squad Announced
Sunday 10 February 2013 10:54 AM
Melbourne Storm has today announced the squad departing to England on Monday to take on Leeds Rhinos in the World Club Challenge.
Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk will all travel as part of the squad to represent the club in the world title decider, with Slater making his third and Ryan Hoffman his fourth appearance on the International stage.
Returning playmaker Brett Finch will take his place in the 21-man travelling party after impressing the coaching staff in Storm’s two recent trial matches.
England International Gareth Widdop will play in front of his family and friends on home soil, joining 10 of his 2012 premiership teammates including Will Chambers, Bryan Norrie, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Sisa Waqa and Jesse Bromwich on the trip.
New Storm recruits Lagi Setu, Junior Sa’u and Junior Moors have been rewarded after impressive first pre-seasons with the club and will also be part of the squad. Seasoned performer Jason Ryles, in his fourteenth season, will play in his first World Club Challenge match.
Storm and the Rhinos have met twice in the World Club Challenge, in 2008 and 2010 for one win apiece.
Leeds are the current world title holders after defeating Manly in last year’s match, while Storm returns to the UK for the first time since 2010.
The clash is set to be a record breaking game with Storm looking to become the first NRL club to win three global challenge matches, while Leeds will be aiming to become the first team ever to win four world titles.
Watch Billy Slater chat about the upcoming World Club Challenge here
The team will fly out on Monday afternoon and will spend five days in London training and acclimatising to the winter conditions before travelling to Leeds on 17 February to complete final preparations before the Friday 22 February match. Following the match the team will then spend three days back in London recovering and preparing for the return flight home.
Players who are not travelling to the UK will continue preparing for the season by training at the club’s AAMI Park headquarters and playing in trial matches with Storm’s feeder clubs.
Melbourne Storm’s World Club Challenge squad:
Kevin Proctor: Grade 3 medial ligament left knee (6-8 weeks)
Matt Duffie: Right hamstring strain (3-4 weeks)
Maurice Blair: Fractured sinus (4 weeks)
Billy Slater has launched a new book just in time for Christmas. Available on the online store shortly, he will be available for signing sessions over the coming weeks
Roosters v Storm Rd. 11 (highlights)
With the first 20 rounds of the upcoming NRL season set in stone, Melbourne Storm fans can already pencil in a number of fascinating clashes into their calendars for 2014.
For the second year, the NRL has made the move to announce the fixture for the first 20 rounds of the 2014 season, locking in Melbourne Storm’s matches up until the end of July.