Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson believes his side will face the perfect test heading into the new NRL season when they face Wigan in Saturday’s World Club Challenge at Allianz Stadium.
Robinson has had to deal with a disrupted pre-season due to 16 of his squad reporting later than usual due to their participation in the Rugby League World Cup.
They will face the Super League premiers with just one trial under their belts – a facile hit out against a second-string Newcastle side in Wyong last week.
The Roosters and bitter rivals South Sydney will kick off the new NRL season on Thursday, March 6 and Robinson said his team get no tougher task ahead of that game than what Wigan will offer.
“It’s a game we are very much looking forward to but are under no illusions about how tough a game it will be,” Robinson told AAP.
“They are a very strong side who I know plenty about from my time coaching Catalans. I am also fully aware of how important this game is not just to Wigan, but all of the Super League.
“But we will be ready for them.”
Robinson is a great advocate of the growth of the international game and welcomed the decision of Wigan owner Ian Lenegan and coach Shaun Wane to play the game in Australia.
“To be honest it would have been a real test for us to play in the UK with the Auckland Nines on,” he said.
“But more importantly I applaud Wigan for coming down here and accepting the challenge to show to fans in this country what they and the Super League are all about.”
Wane has a 100 per cent record against Robinson from their Super League clashes and is boosted by the return of talismanic skipper Shaun O’Loughlin from injury.
The Warriors have lost their last eight games when O’Loughlin hasn’t played – including their Super League opener against Huddersfield two weeks ago.
The England lock passed a fitness test on his injured hamstring on Friday morning and took part in his team’s final training session at Allianz Stadium.
“If it wasn’t right I wouldn’t risk it, it’s too big a game,” O’Loughlin said.
“I wouldn’t want to play for 10 minutes and then go off, that would be no good for anyone.”
Wigan winger Josh Charnley, who has been linked with a switch to the NRL after impressing in the World Cup for England, will be one dangerman for the visitors and Wane has high hopes for young wideman Ryan Burgess, who’ll mark Roosters giant Daniel Tupou.
The 19-year-old, who’s no relation to the South Sydney Burgesses, scored four tries against the Warriors last week in Hamilton.
He stands at 1.94 metres and Wane believes he has the size to deal with Tupou, who is a centimetre taller.
“We know the Roosters like to use Tupou as a target from kicks and we have been working hard with Joe on that this week,” he said.
“He’s got good hands and we believe he has a big future ahead of him.”
By Ian McCullogh, AAP