World Club Challenge confirmed

The 2007 World Club Challenge has been moved back three weeks and will now take place in England on 23 February.

Super League champions St Helens and Australia's premier team Brisbane Broncos were due to meet on 4 February as a curtain-raiser to the new season.

But the Broncos wanted a later date to allow them to give their international players an eight-week rest at the end of the Tri-Nations Series.

Super League is now set to start a week earlier and take a break for the match.

It was thought that, after seven seasons in England, the match would be held in Australia in 2007 but the date delay scuppered that plan.

"In an ideal world we would have preferred to play in Brisbane because that would be the only true way to prove you are the best in the world," said St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus.

"But it's not feasible for us to go there before the season starts and this suits them because it's still a week before their season begins.

"I'm just delighted it's going ahead. Brisbane are one of the best-known names in the world, with the likes of Darren Lockyer and Petero Civoniceva in their side. They are truly a glamour club."

St Helens would like the match to be held in neighbouring Liverpool but as the Reds are at home to Sheffield United the following day, Everton's Goodison Park is now favourite to host the game.

Wigan's JJB Stadium and Bolton's Reebok Stadium are also in the running.

St Helens beat Brisbane 20-18 in an epic encounter at Bolton in 2001.

The 2007 challenge was put in doubt when it emerged that Brisbane were likely to field a vastly weakened team.

Rivals Manly had offered to take their place until organisers arrived at this compromise solution.

"We very much wanted to play the match but could not do so on the traditional early February date," said Broncos chief executive Bruno Cullen.

"The World Club Challenge is a great concept and it is important that, if we do take part, we do so in a way that properly represents the two Premierships involved."

English clubs have won six of the seven challenge matches since they were reintroduced in 2000.

"Since the start of 2000 it has been an annual event and as well as becoming an important part of the rugby league calendar it has also built a strong link between the two competitions," said NRL chief operating officer Graham Annesley.

"The late date this year does necessitate the match being played in the UK again as the Super League season will have actually started, making it impractical for an English team to be in Australia at that time."

Source: bbc.co.uk

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