St Helens have ‘nothing to prove’ says Alex Walmsley ahead of World Club Challenge


ST HELENS giant Alex Walmsley says the Super League champs go into Saturday’s World Club Challenge with nothing to prove to anyone.

On Saturday Saints became the first Super League team to beat NRL opposition since 2017, when they downed St George Illawarra 30-18 at WIN Stadium – but they remain pronounced underdogs against Penrith Panthers at BlueBet Stadium this weekend.

Walmsley said Saints are not trying to prove any point to Aussie fans at all about the strength of Northern Hemisphere Rugby League.

“One thing that we won’t do is put too much pressure on ourselves,” he told League Express.

“This cliché of ‘we need to prove people wrong’ … I don’t think we need to prove anything to anyone, if I’m honest.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved in our game over in England and what we’ve created.

“We’re coming over here as the four times, back-to-back champions.

“We’re here to take an opportunity. If we turn a few heads, then great. If we don’t, then that’s other people’s opinions and good luck to them and we’ve got to respect that.”

Attempting to put the occasion in context, coach Paul Wellens said: “For this team to win four in a row – and a lot of the guys in there (the dressing room) have been there for all four – I think what they’ve done not just last year but the years previously … there’s no group more deserving of the opportunity to come out here and test themselves against a side like Penrith.

“So we’re really excited by the opportunity and the challenge it represents. Look, we’ve come here to win. We wouldn’t come all the way out here for any other reason.”

Walmsley said Penrith, who have a salary cap roughly twice that of the Merseyside club, had an enormous advantage – as do all NRL outfits when they take on European opposition.

“But ultimately we’re coming over here to the best competition in the world,” he said.

“Finances and infrastructure that you boys have over here is obviously drastically larger than back in England.

“We’re very proud of our sport back home. We’re a northern working-class sport and we’re very proud of our history. We’ve got an opportunity to come up against the absolute best and that’s what we’re excited about.”

Walmsley, 32, added: “The long term is obviously a Super League competition back home but the great thing about our sport and the opportunity we’ve been given now is we’ve got the chance to create something special in our club’s history.

“Obviously we’re looking forward to that. We’ll build into the week next week. I wouldn’t be as drastic as to say it’s all or nothing. We are aware of the enormity of the match and what it means to our history and our club.

“We’re not shying away from the fact it’s going to take a monumental effort to get the job done next week. We’re coming up against the back-to-back champions in the NRL. It’s going to be no easy feat.”