World Club Challenge winning coach backs new Super League rules

Trent Robinson
Trent Robinson

Former Super League coach of the year Trent Robinson has given his thumbs up to the new rule changes in the competition.

The 41-year-old former Catalans Dragons coach guided Sydney Roosters to a 20-8 victory over Wigan on Sunday to secure his second and his side's record-equalling fourth World Club Challenge.

The game at the DW Stadium was played under the new rules - largely copied from the NRL - which were introduced from the start of the new Super League season three weeks ago and, according to Robinson, are already having a beneficial effect.

"I think the shot clock and the eight interchanges are a big improvement, particularly around that work ethic around the middle and the ability to move the ball," Robinson said.

"We've seen some points scored in the first two rounds but we've also seen some tight games.

"I think the the adaptability of the competition in a short space of time has been really good. It's really pleasing.

"Are you allowed to be positive in rugby league? I think everyone would be happy with the product in the first two rounds."

The Roosters' victory continued the recent domination of the annual inter-hemisphere clash by Australian clubs, who have won nine of the last 11 contests, but Robinson believes it remains a prestigious fixture and deserves some long-term planning.

"We have to have it," he said. "I'm not sure about the timing of it but we've played it for 20 years straight and every October there's a discussion between two clubs about the game.

"I'm sure there are really smart people in the two leagues who can sit down for two or three days and organise the next 20 years.

"Sort it out, let's not have the discussion at the end of every year, lock it in.

"It's one of the best games to play. We're really proud that we've won four and when we get an opportunity to get a fifth, we'll go after a fifth.

"We want to play in these, there's not even a question about it. I'd implore somebody to sort it out and get it fixed for the next 20 years."

Sunday's game was watched by a crowd of 21,331 and, despite Wigan's defeat, interim head coach Adrian Lam hailed its significance.

"I thought it was a massive highlight for rugby league around the world, a chockablock stadium in the heartland of rugby league in the UK, and the atmosphere was amazing," he said.

"Every one of the Roosters players I talked to said they had never experienced anything like this and anyone watching from the outside would have loved it. I think it's something we need to continue."

Wigan captain Sean O'Loughlin, the England skipper, believes the fixture is the next best thing to playing internationals.

"The result was disappointing but I always say about this concept, for the boys that don't play international, this is the next step up," he said.

"The younger end of the squad will take a lot of experience from it and hopefully it makes them better players."