2013 world club challengeIt has been a long wait but it is finally here: the 2013 World Club Challenge between Melbourne Storm and Leeds Rhinos at Headingly.

The Super League champions, Leeds, toppled the Manly Sea Eagles in 2012 and they will look to do the same to the Storm this year.

Previous match-ups between the two teams see them draw equal. In 2008 Leeds won 11-4 and in 2010 the Storm came out the winners with a score of 18-10.

Leeds is getting used to playing in the Club Challenge, having been there six times in the past eight years. Melbourne is competing for the top spot for the fourth time since the game was instituted.

Melbourne sent an experienced team to face Leeds, with eleven members of the side that beat the Bulldogs 14-4 in the 2012 Grand Final, included for the match.

The availability of Australian Joe Vickery was a welcome surprise for the Rhinos. Vickery suffered an ankle injury in his debut against Hull FC three weeks ago. At first it was said that he would be out of contention for at least six weeks. However, he has made a remarkable recovery and is now included in the Rhinos squad for this weekend’s match against the 2012 NRL Champions. The Rhinos have lost Zak Hardaker, Ryan Bailey and Ben Jones-Bishop to injury.

Kevin Proctor is out of the Melbourne squad for this match due to injury but this will give Tohu Harris the opportunity to make his debut. Billy Slater is also fully recovered and taking his place on the field.

Leeds Rhinos head coach, Brian McDermott, had the following to say about the upcoming match:

We have to be very, very good to beat Melbourne. They are an outstanding team. They’ll bring everything on Friday night. We’ll have to have some added stuff, especially defensively to shut them out. The occasion is going to get the best out of everyone. We’re ready. We know how much effort and energy is going to be involved. It will take an almighty defensive effort to shut Melbourne out.

Gareth Widdop, English professional rugby league player who has played for the Melbourne Storm since 2010, had the following to say:

Look, we haven’t come all this way to take it easy. It’s a massive game and we want to be crowned World Champions, that is what we’re here to do. They’re a great side and the atmosphere is going to be electric on Friday night, but we have trained really well and are looking forward to it now. It’s a massive game and we all enjoy coming over and playing in these big games. All my friends and family are going to come down this afternoon, back to where it all started for me which is a real privilege.

The game will be played on Friday evening in England but for us here in Australia, it will be an early rise. Depending on where in Australia you are, you will have to be up between 2am and 6am on Saturday morning to watch a live broadcast of the match.

If you cannot wait until tomorrow morning to get your NRL fix, be sure to catch the Charity Shield match between the Dragons and the Rabbitohs tonight at 7.30 ANZ Stadium.


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