For a while there, it didn't look like this was going to be happening. Melbourne Storm rejected their invitation, meaning Challenge Cup winners Hull FC were left without a game, and Brisbane had to volunteer for the opportunity to give Warrington a game. A concept many seem as flawed, it'd have been a shame to see it disappear entirely, although there's clearly some work to be done in convincing everybody involved that it's going to be worth their while.
Still part of the pre-season for the NRL sides, they haven't played competitive rugby since the tail end of last season, although some players will have come through the Aukland 9s competition earlier this month. Since the series concept came in to play two years ago, Super League have failed to win a game, with the NRL clubs running out convincing winners on almost every occasion, and the one-sided nature of the matches given as a reason as to why the event hasn't taken hold as strongly as many had hoped it would.
Ignoring all that convoluted politics for now, then, here is the betting preview for the 2017 World Club Series:
Warrington Wolves vs Brisbane Broncos
Saturday 18th February, 20:00
Live on SkySports
England coach Wayne Bennett seems to enjoy bringing his Broncos side to England as part of their pre-season preparations. Having signed the likes of Benji Marshall in the off-season, this isn't a Brisbane side lacking star power, with so many household names across their entire side. Having named a strong squad littered with youthful prospects, Bennett is coming all this way to be beaten.
Warrington, meanwhile, will want to prove that they can do it on the big occasions again. Despite the dramatic League Leader's Shield win against Hull away, they crumbled late on in both the Challenge Cup final and Grandfinal, blowing what was a possible treble had things gone to plan. They won't face many better sides than Brisbane this season though, and losing away to Catalan wasn't the greatest preparation in the world.
Tony Smith has held new signing Kevin Brown back to make his competitive debut in this one, but that doesn't seem like it'll be enough for Wire, despite the former Widnes captain's obvious class. Bennett has brought the Broncos to town to win, and to win big - and that's more than likely exactly what's going to happen.
Recommended Bet: Brisbane Broncos to beat Warrington Wolves by +13pts @ 10/11
Wigan Warriors vs Cronulla Sharks
Sunday 19th February, 15:00
Live on SkySports
Cronulla have named thirteen members of their first ever Premiership winning side from last season in a twenty strong man squad for this one. Influential fullback Ben Barba is no longer with the club, hooker Michael Ennis has retired and winger Valentine Holmes is missing through injury. Their captain Paul Gallen does make the trip, however, and the squad isn't short of talent with Andrew Fifita, Matt Pryor and Chad Townsend all more than capable of turning the tie in the Sharks favour.
In a rare feat, Wigan might actually be a more complete and well balanced side this season than the won that ended the last as champions. With flying winger Joe Burgess back from his stint in Sydney and Thomas Leuluai taking his place in the halves alongside George Williams, this Warriors team is packed full of attacking talent, with enough pace and power to trouble anyone. Shaun Wane isn't a man who takes kindly to losing, and he'll have his side itching to tear in to Cronulla to make a name for not only themselves, but Super League, with reputations severely bruised after the past few seasons of defeat.
Call me mad but, I actually think Wigan have enough about them to win this, in the face of all the horror that's come for Super League clubs in recent seasons. Cronulla aren't as experienced as those other NRL clubs have been, so a packed out DW and lack of playing time might be enough to catch them cold. Wigan have the tools at their disposal to hurt the Sharks, and if they defend strongly enough, there's every chance Sunday afternoon ends in silverware.
Recommended Bet: Wigan Warriors to beat Cronulla Sharks by 1-10pts @ 7/2