Super League has announced the identity of the four clubs from Super League and the NRL which will contest the Dacia World Club Series in 2017: with the event reduced in size for 2017.
Super League champions Wigan Warriors and League Leaders Shield winners Warrington Wolves will represent the Super League against 2016 NRL champions Cronulla and six-time NRL winners Brisbane in the two game series next February.
The action will kick off on Saturday February 18 when Warrington Wolves host Brisbane Broncos at the Halliwell Jones Stadium at 8pm. The Dacia World Club Challenge will then follow on Sunday February 19, when Wigan Warriors host the Sharks at the DW Stadium at 3pm. Both Dacia World Club Series games will be shown live on Sky Sports.
Super League General Manager, Mark Foster, said: “We are pleased to welcome Cronulla and Brisbane to the UK to take part in the 2017 Dacia World Club Series.
“The 2016 Dacia World Club Series delivered some great rugby and I believe that the 2017 Series will produce two games that will provide great entertainment for Rugby League fans. We have worked hard with the NRL to produce a series that will not only excite fans but one that also allows all clubs in the NRL to have a full pre-season.”
Following extensive work and discussion between Super League (Europe) and the NRL, the Dacia World Club Series will see a reduction from six to four competing teams in 2017. This is due in a small part to the unique nature of a World Cup year but also to accommodate the need for each club in the NRL to have a full pre-season fixture list prior to the start of their season.
“The Super League and its clubs have always been very supportive of international club rugby and the benefits it brings,” Foster continued. “If we are to continue to grow the sport to reach new audiences then we all need to work together to continue to produce these wonderful occasions. Cronulla and Brisbane have shown their commitment to doing this and the value that they place in taking part in the series and we are excited to welcome them to these shores in February.”
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg, said: “There was always enormous interest in the World Club Series and it would be no different in 2017 with the Sharks appearing for the first time.”
Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan said: “To have the chance to play over in the UK, for a World Club Championship, is a great opportunity and one that our club is really looking forward to. Then add to that the challenge of playing Wigan, one of the strongest and most famous clubs in the Super League and it will definitely be an outstanding experience.”
Wigan coach Shaun Wane said: “We are excited to welcome the Cronulla Sharks to the DW Stadium in February. They are a quality side who have shown that when under pressure they can come up with their very best rugby. Playing against the very best that the NRL has to offer will offer this squad a big test, but it is one I am confident they will rise to. We came very close to beating the Brisbane Broncos two years ago and the squad are very motivated to do well against Cronulla and hopefully win the World Club Challenge for the fourth time ever next year.”