Keiron Cunningham knows what it’s like to be part and parcel of a World Club Challenge winning side.
The newly-appointed Saints’ coach was twice a winner of the competition as a player with his home-town club - against the Brisbane Broncos in 2001 and 2007- and had also to swallow the bitter pill of defeat at the hands of Melbourne Storm in 2000 and Sydney Roosters three years later.
And even though the Super League champions date against the NRL kings South Sydney Rabbitohs at Langtree Park is still a few months down the line, Cunningham is already relishing the task of pitting his wits against the Australians in a competition which has been extended to six clubs and being billed as the ‘Ryder Cup of Rugby League’.
He said: “We are very much looking forward to what will b a great contest.
“To win the World Club Challenge would be a massive boost for the club and having been part of two wins as a player, I know how special it is to the town and the fans.
“I’m sure Langtree Park will be packed to the rafters as two of the best club sides in the world lock horns.”
Rabbitohs’ boss Michael Maguire, who knows all about Saints from his time as head coach at Wigan Warriors, is also relishing the clash.
He said: “We’re really looking forward to the World Club Challenge as a group and it will be a fantastic way to start our 2015 season with the World Club title on the line.
“We have a few new players in our squad this year and a tough hit out such as the one we expect against St Helens will set us up well for our Premiership defence.
“Despite St Helens being the local side, I’m sure many English-based Rabbitohs members and supporters and ex-pat Aussies will get behind us, and I’m also sure the English crowd will look forward seeing some of our English Rabbitohs in the Burgess brothers in action on home soil.
“I understand the importance of the World Club Challenge from my time at Wigan and our team can’t wait to play for another big title in February.”
The Saints-Rabbitohs encounter, which will be played on Sunday, February 22 (7pm), will be the centre piece of a three-match World Series that weekend.
The action kicks off on Friday, February 20, with Warrington Wolves v St George-Illawarra Dragons (8pm), continues on Saturday with Wigan Warriors v Brisbane Broncos (7.45pm) and reaches an exciting climax with the Saints/Rabbitohs clash.
Tickets for the Saints/ Rabbitohs clash cost from £22 for adults, £15 for concessions and £10 for children. Tickets can be purchased from the Langtree Park ticket office, or by calling 01744 455 052.
Saints’ fixture at Widnes Vikings has been brought forward two days to Friday, March 13, 2015.