All eyes will be on Wigan on Sunday evening and Phil Spink thinks the visitors can go home happy...
"there is nothing the Australians love more than delivering a beating to our best and they have won eight of the last ten"
Wigan Warriors vs Sydney Roosters
Sunday February 17, 19:00
Live on Sky Sports Action
The DW Stadium plays host to the Champions of the two hemispheres as Wigan Warriors welcome the Sydney Roosters.
Wigan, who were lifting their fifth Super League title in October, have started the new season with a win and a defeat under new coach Adrian Lam, whose playing career was split between the two clubs. The Cherry and Whites saw off Leeds 34-16 last week, in the process enhancing a tremendous record that has seen them lose just once in their last 16 games on home turf. They name an unchanged squad that includes thirteen men who have previously played in the World Club Challenge.
Roosters sure to be up for it
The Sydney Roosters completed the minor premiership and Grand Final double in 2018, becoming NRL Champions for the fourteenth time with a dominant 21-6 win over Melbourne Storm.
You get the impression the game has been considered a bit of a nuisance by some of their peers in recent years, with it usually involving a trip to the UK bang in the middle of pre-season, but the Roosters coach Trent Robinson (pictured above during a training session in Paris this week) is a big fan of the competition and they have brought over a very-strong squad.
The legendary halfback Cooper Cronk, victorious in 2013 with Melbourne and who played in September's Grand Final with a broken scapula, could be set for his last appearance in Britain having recovered from surgery. England fans will be very familiar with the talents of captain Boyd Cordner, who was the only tryscorer in Australia's 6-0 World Cup Final win in 2017.
Seven wins between them and an Aussie dominance
Wigan have won the final on four occasions, most recently in 2017 when beating Cronulla 22-6 at home, over two decades after they last lifted the trophy.
The Roosters are unbeaten in three appearances, beating Wigan 36-14 at the Allianz Stadium in 2014, while they delivered a 38-0-hammering to St Helens at Bolton in 2003.
While the status of the event may be called into question by the NRL, there is nothing the Australians love more than delivering a beating to our best, and they have won eight of the last ten matches.
A tale of two defences
Defence proved key for both sides en route to glory in 2018. The Roosters conceded just 22 points in three matches in the NRL Finals, while Wigan let in just seven tries in their final six games. With Shaun Wane gone the big concern for the Warriors is that those standards haven't been maintained and they've conceded the same amount in just two matches back after slow starts.
Their opponents will be keen to exploit that and the game could be over quickly if the home side fail to set out their stall.
It should be a cracking contest and a bet on the Roosters to cover the handicap and make it four from four in the competition is the advice.