The Garry Schofield Column: Can Wigan Warriors triumph in World Club Challenge?

IT’S been confirmed that Wigan will host Penrith in the World Club Challenge on Saturday, February 24, and I can’t wait to see these two go toe-to-toe.

Some Wigan fans say I haven’t got a good word to say about their club, and while I make no bones about my loyalty to Yorkshire and, in particular, Leeds, that doesn’t mean I don’t respect the Cherry and Whites, and what Wigan have achieved over the years.

And regular readers of this column will also know I’m a big admirer of Matty Peet, a top-class coach who conducts himself in an exemplary manner.

Matty has landed the Challenge Cup, League Leaders’ Shield and Super League title in his two years in post.

Now he’s going for global supremacy, and Wigan have always loved being known as champions of the world.

They have the opportunity to draw level with Sydney Roosters’ record five triumphs.

And their appetite for success has surely been whetted all the more by their arch-rivals St Helens claiming the crown down under earlier this year. They will so want to follow suit.

But Saints’ success will also have heightened Penrith’s desire to come over here and prove a point, and I reckon we’re in for a real cracker.

Some have argued that Saints’ involvement in last year’s World Club Challenge, while giving Paul Wellens a super start as coach, also provided a problem and contributed to their sluggish start to the domestic season and perhaps even the loss of their grip on the Super League title.

Matty is a deep thinker and meticulous planner, and he’ll already have thought about such a scenario and how to cope. But for me, the positives of playing in this match far outweigh any negatives.

Wigan have less of a problem than Saints did because they’re not having to travel Down Under and cope with all that entails, especially in terms of the need for a quick recovery.

And as for any after the Lord Mayor’s Show effect, I think most players want to be involved in as many big matches as possible, and would welcome more matches of high intensity.

In the long run, that’s what makes you better. We see that from the NRL, where they have them on a far more regular basis.

I enjoy a prediction, and I’m going to go with an early one – as things stand, Wigan by seven.