World Club Challenge: St Helens could unleash secret weapon on Penrith Panthers

Saints boss Paul Wellens made 495 appearances and won a plethora of major and individual honours as a player for St Helens. Image: Michael Steele/Getty ImagesSaints boss Paul Wellens made 495 appearances and won a plethora of major and individual honours as a player for St Helens. Image: Michael Steele/Getty Images
Saints boss Paul Wellens made 495 appearances and won a plethora of major and individual honours as a player for St Helens. Image: Michael Steele/Getty Images
Jet-heeled winger Tee Ritson was an impressive figure in last weekend’s victory over St George Illawarra Dragons.

Jet-heeled winger Tee Ritson, who joined Saints from Championship club Barrow Raiders on a one-year loan deal a few months ago, could be head coach Paul Wellens’ secret weapon in Saturday’s World Club Challenge against holders Penrith Panthers at the BlueBet Stadium, Sydney.

Wellens has not yet named his starting 17 simply because of pressure from his buoyant on-song squad, leaving him with a problem of who to leave out on the day.

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He has, however, confirmed that Curtis Sironen will be a straight replacement for injured forward Joe Batchelor and also insisted he has options in the backs where new boy Ritson was an impressive figure in last weekend’s victory over St George Illawarra Dragons.

He said: “It’s a wonderful headache to have because I can look round the dressing room and know I face a tough conversation in who to select or omit. I much prefer it that way than the decisions coming really easy for us. We have some deep thinking to carry out before naming our line-up.”

One player who can more than justify his place is skipper and long-serving James Roby. The 37-year-old, who has played more than 500 games for his hometown club which included a victory over Brisbane Broncos in the 2007 World Club Challenge Final at Bolton, is hoping that his team-mates will be able to share the feelings he experienced as a 21-year-old.

“I’ve been lucky enough to win a few trophies in my time at Saints but only once in the World Club Challenge and that was a unique feeling,” said the former Man of Steel.

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“That Brisbane team was full of star-studded players, people I had looked up to and admired on TV as a young kid and I’d like to think we can emulate the feat against Penrith and bring the trophy home for a third time.”

Due to predicted hot weather the kick-off time has been adjusted to 7.50am UK time, Eighteen players will be allowed with an increase of interchanges to 10 and the match will be played in quarters to allow for water breaks.

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