‘Deadly’ weather warning for World Club Challenge as St Helens gear up for Penrith Panthers clash

AS the UK prepares itself for a positively balmy 12 degrees next weekend, St Helens will be gearing up to play in almost 40 degrees heat in the World Club Challenge against Penrith Panthers.

The warning shot has already been fired after a New South Wales Cup referee was hospitalised at the weekend due to dehydration after officiating a game in Penrith.

The referee felt unwell after a game and was taken to hospital for rehydration and observation before being discharged on Saturday night.

Now ex-South Sydney Rabbitohs forward Nathan Gibbs, who was a doctor in a trial game between New South Wales and Queensland at the weekend, has issued the following warning.

“Serious heat illness can kill you,” Gibbs told the Daily Telegraph. “Heat stroke is deadly.

“Heat stress doesn’t occur suddenly. You need the medical staff to closely monitor players who are starting to develop signs of dehydration, which include fatigue, cramping and exhaustion.

“The Australian players have been training here all summer so they are acclimatised to the heat. Acclimatisation is a big part of preparing for heat stress.”

Now the NRL has introduced some new rules for the World Club Challenge:

­- Eighteen 18 players to be used by each team.

– Increased interchanges from eight to ten.

– Additional water breaks with the game to be contested in 20-minute quarters.

– Reducing restrictions on trainers carrying water on the field.

“This comes through consultation and an agreement by both clubs and is in recognition of the conditions, particularly for a team coming from the northern hemisphere,” NRL head of football Graham Annesley said.

“Normally the World Club Challenge would be played under regular competition rules but as a concession to the expected conditions, we have relaxed those rules. The normal heat provisions will also apply.

“The weather at this time of year is always hot, regardless of who is playing and where.

“That’s why the NRL has heat guidelines in place which can be automatically kicked in once the two team doctors are satisfied there is a requirement for them.