In the eyes of many, the World Club Series is a distraction to the teams involved.
However, for all three Super League teams, their games against the NRL’s elite are the perfect distraction given their seasons so far.
Super League’s representatives in this year’s World Club Series; Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors and St Helens, have all experienced different fortunes in their season so far.
2016 hasn’t been all too kind to the reigning treble-winners, while Saints have also suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Salford.
As for Wigan, they’ve gone through two real slogs against Catalans and Huddersfield, but come out on top.
Despite all three going down different paths so far, their respective games this week are perfectly timed.
From Leeds’ perspective, the opportunity to move their focus away from the Super League table for a week will be much welcomed, with the Rhinos currently at the foot of the table.
Inevitably, their prospects of beating Jonathan Thurston’s Cowboys look limited, especially with a number of key men still out injured.
But Leeds have shown on numerous occasions that they know how to deliver on the big stage. Yes, the likes of Kevin Sinfield and Jamie Peacock were key in some of their most memorable performances, but throughout this century the ability to shine on the biggest stages has been embedded in the club, and it isn’t something that disintegrates overnight.
Win or not, the game against North Queensland gives the Rhinos another opportunity to get back to their best, something they must do imminently to ensure they don’t fall too far behind the leading pack in Super League. An inability to produce results domestically in the coming weeks will make a top four spot hard to reach.
A similar case can be argued for St Helens, who will have a number of points to prove against the Sydney Roosters.
Their hammering at Salford, although alarmingly poor, will only work as a motivation for the Saints, as will their drubbing at the hands of South Sydney Rabbitohs in last year’s competition.
Like Leeds, it is a club rich in history, a club long associated with silverware. But to ensure that remains the case the club can ill-afford many more nights like the one at Salford and require more of the ilk that has made them one of the world’s most recognisable clubs.
The opportunity to do that comes against the Roosters, who themselves are missing key personnel in Mitchell Pearce and Boyd Cordner. When watching Saints, you get the impression some of the team lack belief, and victories in games of this magnitude are the perfect tonic to rid that doubt.
As for Wigan, their clash with the Broncos is likely to turn into a territorial battle in difficult conditions. From a Warriors perspective, their games against the Giants and the Dragons could hardly have been better preparation, not only because of the results, but the manner of the games.
Both games had an emphasis on completion rate. Wigan were perfect in doing that throughout the first-half against Catalans, which can only bode well for them, while the game with Huddersfield had similarities.
To be as battle-hardened as they are ahead of a game with Brisbane, who might take time to adjust to the conditions, could prove to be the key for Shaun Wane’s side.