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World Club Challenge preview: Panthers ready for Warriors test

The biggest game in club Rugby League returns on Sunday as NRL champions the Penrith Panthers take on Super League title holders Wigan Warriors.

With the chance to crown themselves the world champions, it’s all on the line in the early hours of Sunday morning at the DW Stadium in Wigan.

What

Wigan v Penrith Panthers

Where

DW Stadium, Wigan

When

06:00 (AEST) Sunday 25th February 2024

How to watch

Channel 9

Odds

Wigan 2.62, Penrith Panthers 1.50

Previous meeting

This is not the first time Wigan Warriors and Penrith Panthers have clashed in the World Club Challenge.

The encounter took place at the home of Liverpool FC at Anfield, and it was the Warriors that came out on top, winning 21-4 back in 1991.

As well as the defeats to the Warriors and fellow Super League giants St Helens, the Panthers' other defeat in the World Club Challenge came back in 2004 against the Bradford Bulls.

Wigan’s four wins in this event came against Manly Sea Eagles, Brisbane Broncos, Penrith and Cronulla Sharks.

The Warriors have also finished runner-up on four occasions when losing to Brisbane Broncos, St George Illawarra Dragons and twice to the Sydney Roosters.

Warriors kick-start title defence with a win

Wigan had their first competitive game of 2024 last week and ran out comfortable winners at Castleford, beating the Tigers 32-4.

Former Leeds Rhinos skipper Kruise Leeming marked his debut for the Warriors with a brace of tries, in a game that saw Liam Watts shown a red card for his tackle on Tyler Dupree.

It was a good run out for the Warriors, who will have quickly shifted their focus to this weekend’s clash with the Panthers, one they are the 2.62 underdogs to win.

Panthers hope to hit the ground running

Not playing their first NRL game until 8th March away at Melbourne Storm, Penrith will need to blow off the cobwebs quickly if they are to head back Down Under with the trophy.

The Panthers squad is one brimming with talent and big-game experience, which certainly came to the fore in their comeback win over the Brisbane Broncos in the NRL grand final last season.

However, despite their domestic dominance, the Panthers have not been able to enjoy the global success that this dynastic side perhaps deserves.

Two cancelled World Club Challange games in 2021 and 2022 was followed by a 13-12 defeat on home soil at the hands of St Helens in the last showpiece event in 2023.

Head coach Ivan Cleary and his side might well feel like they have an axe to grind in this competition and are favourites 1.50 to come out on top in the 80 minutes at the DW Stadium this weekend.  

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