Leeds Rhinos will have to overcome a highly motivated Melbourne Storm side if they are to be crowned world champions this week.
That was the warning when the Downer World Club Challenge was officially launched on Monday.
Melbourne’s reluctance to travel to England for Friday’s game led to suggestions they are not interesting in the annual showdown between the NRL and Betfred Super League Grand Final winners.
But Storm coach Craig Bellamy scotched that during a media conference held on the 89th floor of the Eureka Skydeck in Melbourne.
“It would be a nice feeling,” Bellamy said of the prospect of a win this week.
“Not many clubs have won the minor premiership and the premiership and held the World Club Challenge trophy all at the same time.
“We’d like to join that elite group, We have always taken the World Club Challenge as a really serious game.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to win the NRL or the English Super League competition to play in one of these games so it’s not easy to get there.
“That’s the sort of height we hold the World Club Challenge in.”
The NRL has yet to get underway, but Rhinos boss Brian McDermott played down any advantage having had two competitive fixtures might give Leeds.
“We haven’t been great in those games,” McDermott said of the Super League wins over Warrington Wolves and Hull KR.
McDermott also admitted the loss of four front-rowers - Keith Galoway, Mitch Garbutt, Nathaniel Peteru and Anthony Mullally - to injury is “a big thing for us”.
Both teams will be allowed to make 12 changes in Friday’s game. The NRL permits eight substitutions, two fewer than Super League.
Brett Delaney, who suffered concussion in last Thursday’s clash with Hull KR, is confident of being available for the big game.
The tie is expected to attract a crowd of more than 20,000 and television viewing figures in excess of one million in Australia alone.
*Report in association with Betfred.