The Sydney Roosters have the opportunity to make history and become the only club with five World Club Challenge titles if they are victorious this weekend.
The NRL premiers meet the Super League champions St Helens on Saturday night (Sunday morning Australian time). The Roosters have won four World Club Challenges, the same amount as Wigan, while Melbourne and Leeds have won three each.
Victory over Saints at the Totally Wicked Stadium would give them five titles and establish them as the most successful club in history in the annual northern hemisphere vs southern hemisphere contest.
The first World Club Challenge was played in 1976 when Eastern Suburbs defeated St Helens 25-2 at the Sydney Cricket Ground. On that day the Jack Gibson-coached Easts team, featuring Artie Beetson, Russell Fairfax and Ian Schubert, scored five tries against Eric Ashton’s men.
The Roosters have gone on to claim World Club Challenge crowns in 2003, again against St Helens, along with trophies in 2014 and 2019, both against Wigan.
A special slice of history is for grabs for the 112-year-old club in Merseyside.
Coach Trent Robinson, who has a tremendous record since joining the Roosters in 2013, is acutely aware of their rare chance.
“We’re really proud of our history,” he says.
“We value this competition, obviously it started in 1976 with these two teams. And we value it’s the combining of the northern and southern hemispheres of rugby league.
“It’s what we’ve got – the NRL and the Super League. It’s our two competitions that fly the flag for rugby league and to play the World Club Challenge is a privilege and we take it as that.”
Robinson has been in charge of the Tricolors for 200 games, winning 130 of them, for an impressive win percentage of 63%.
In just seven seasons he has won three grand finals, including two back-to-back premierships, and four minor premierships.
In only one season – in 2016 – have the Roosters not finished in the top eight during the 42-year-old’s tenure.
— Sydney Roosters 🐓 (@sydneyroosters) February 22, 2020
Considering his age, the former Tigers and Eels prop may well end up being the greatest coach in rugby league history.
Robinson’s ability to innovate and keep himself at the cutting edge is unparalleled.
“He is very controlled and everything stays in house, there’s no leaks,” says a source close to the club.
“The X factor is who they are the culture they breed. Although Nick Politis is the money man, he let’s Trent do what he wants.
“He is the perfect example of evolution as a coach the better the game get the better he gets.”