Panthers make most of UK experience ahead of World Club Challenge

Brian To'o and Mitch Kenny at a Manchester City match.
Share this story

From attending English Premier League matches to meeting fans on the wet streets of Manchester, the Penrith Panthers are making the most of their time in the UK.

But what they really travelled thousands of miles for is the opportunity to make history, to become the first Panthers team to win the World Club Challenge.

It will be Penrith’s fourth attempt at World Club Challenge supremacy when the two sides do battle on Sunday morning (Penrith time) at a sold-out DW Stadium in Wigan.

The three-peat NRL Premiers arrived in England last weekend, travelling via Emirates business class from Sydney to Dubai and on to Manchester.

Dylan Edwards and Isaah Yeo at a Manchester City game.

Before the trip, the Weekender caught up with three players who were very eager to claim a piece of silverware that had eluded the Panthers club for so long.

Panthers winger Brian To’o said he was looking forward to returning to England after an enjoyable experience at the Rugby League World Cup in 2022.

“My first time over there was crazy, it was the best ever! I love the weather over there and I’m looking forward to playing against a great team as well,” he said.

“We learned a big valuable lesson against St Helens last year. They obviously showed up with a purpose and we want to learn from that. Hopefully we can play hard for the next game.”

Penrith backrower Liam Martin will get his first taste of World Club Challenge football when he runs onto the pitch this weekend. The 26-year-old missed out on playing against St Helens in Penrith last year due to injury.

“I injured my AC joint, so I was disappointed to miss out last year,” he said.

“It’s going to be a really cool experience going over as a team. The game is already sold out, so that’s exciting.

“You see how passionate the English are with all their sports, like the Barmy Army, so I feel like it will be a similar atmosphere. I’m really looking forward to experiencing it.”

While Luke Garner finished the year with a Premiership, his first game for the Panthers was their 13-12 golden point loss to the Saints last February. The 28-year-old, who is visiting the UK for the first time, said helping Penrith win their maiden World Club Challenge title is the dream.

“That’s all the motivation we need,” Garner said.

“We are a team that doesn’t like losing, so that’s enough motivation in itself. Hopefully we get the win this time.”

Penrith will battle Wigan in the Clash of the Champions this Sunday at 7am.

Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is the Weekender's Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.

Share this story