MELBOURNE STORM have pledged to field their “strongest-possible” team in next year’s World Club Challenge showdown with Leeds Rhinos.
Rhinos will face the Australian champions in Melbourne on Friday, February 16. Storm are due to send a team to play New Zealand Warriors in a pre-season game the following day, but their football director Frank Ponissi said the world title match is a priority.
“With the shortened pre-season for a lot of the players [due to the World Cup] we’ve got to keep that in mind, but we are going to work with our performance staff and the players themselves to give them every possible chance to be available for that game,” he told Storm’s website.
Storm began pre-season training yesterday. They declined the opportunity to travel to England to face Leeds, but Ponissi said they “absolutely jumped at the opportunity” to stage it on home turf. He added: “We value the World Club Challenge and we just think to be able to play it right here in Melbourne, in front of our own supporters, is something we can really look forward to.”
“We’ve had a lot of players already comment on that. Whilst we’ve won the World Club Challenge before and we’ve won the Premiership and Minor Premiership, in the club’s 20-year history, we’ve never held the three trophies at the same time, that in itself is a huge incentive.”