Rugby League: Wigan, Warrington seek to buck trend in World Club Series

Super League's finest were humbled in the 2016 World Club Series. Wigan and Warrington are determined to put on a better show this weekend.

Sean O'Loughlin and Tony Smith have outlined the importance of this weekend's World Club Series to Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves, after Super League's leading clubs were outclassed by their NRL counterparts in 2016.

Since the World Club Challenge was expanded to include additional fixtures in 2015, teams from Australia boast a perfect record of six victories from as many matches.

Yet while Warrington and Wigan suffered narrow losses to St George Illawarra Dragons and Brisbane Broncos respectively in 2015, ahead of South Sydney Rabbitohs thumping St Helens 39-0, all three fixtures last year proved alarmingly one-sided – the NRL's representatives winning by an aggregate score of 118-28.

The Wolves host the Broncos on Saturday in the first game of this year's streamlined two-match series, with Wigan and Cronulla Sharks contesting the main event – the World Club Challenge – at the DW Stadium 24 hours later.

Warriors skipper O'Loughlin told Omnisport: "I think it's massive for the club and the sport. It would be great for us just to put some confidence back in our competition.

"We know it's a massive ask, a tough thing to do, but it's something we're looking forward to.

"Whenever you play in these games, you're obviously wearing your club shirt, but you're carrying the Super League flag as well. There is a responsibility there and it would be massive for us to do it."

That theme was echoed by Smith, who led Warrington to the League Leaders' Shield in 2016m but saw his side suffer agonising narrow defeats in both the Challenge Cup final and Super League Grand Final.

"We felt that last time when we had an opportunity [to play in the WCS], we were just a little bit off against St George – there wasn't much between the two teams," said Smith.

"This time we'd love to give a better account of ourselves than what Super League's been able to show in the last few years. We see a big responsibility there.

"I think if you listen to every player that's come across here and played in both competitions, they'll tell you, Super League is a tough competition.

"I can't disagree that it's probably a bit more ruthless and consistent in terms of competition in Australia. However, ours is getting stronger and it's very competitive and challenging for some different reasons.

"They should both be respected, but we'd like to give a good account of ourselves, on behalf of Super League as well."