It’s billed as one of the sport’s most eye-catching fixtures, when teams from the pinnacle of their nation’s respective leagues face off in an international clash of Rugby League titans.
And excited fans will this morning be tuning in early to watch Leeds Rhinos battle Australian champions Melbourne Storm in the World Club Challenge.
Played 10,500 miles away in southeastern Australia, the coastal city of Melbourne will provide the stage for the Rugby League showdown which kicks off at 9am UK time.
Speaking after the tie was first unveiled in November, Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said victory would be “the pinnacle in our club’s 128-year history”.
The tournament’s format has changed constantly over the last decade, and this year’s fixture will be a winner-takes-all final match.
The Rhinos go into the match just months after their glorious Super League Grand Final victory against Castleford Tigers at Old Trafford in October.
Coverage of the match will be shown live on Sky Sports.
Fans in Leeds can watch the action at Shooters Sports Bar, on the Headrow, or at the Rhinos’ Emerald Headingley Stadium.
Leeds last month unveiled a limited edition match kit that will be born by the Rhinos for the fixture.
The amber shirt takes inspiration from a kit worn by Leeds in the 1930s, and will feature three stars above the club badge to mark its three previous World Club Challenge victories. The Rhinos wore an amber kit when they defeated Melbourne in 2008 at Elland Road.
HEAD TO HEAD WITH AUSSIES
Leeds have tasted victory in the World Club Challenge three times before, in 2005, 2008 and 2012.
The club has lost four finals in the challenge, considered by some to be the most difficult match in the sport.
Their highly-rated Aussie rivals finished the 2017 National Rugby League (NRL) season in first place, and also claimed the Minor Premiership trophy.
The Rhinos have faced their Aussie rivals three times before in World Club Challenge finals, all of which were held at home in Leeds.
The club won the first clash against Melbourne in 2008, but lost to the Aussies in both 2010 and 2013.