Murphy backs English clubs to give NRL sides a tough test

Leigh legend Alex Murphy being presented with his 'star' by Lord Peter Smith of Wigan Council
Leigh legend Alex Murphy being presented with his 'star' by Lord Peter Smith of Wigan Council

FORMER Leigh coach and player Alex Murphy wants the UK clubs to prove a point by sending the Australians packing in this weekend’s World Club Series.

The cream of Super League have the chance to topple three of the biggest names from the NRL in the expanded World Club Challenge.

Warrington host St George Illawarra on Friday and Wigan take on Brisbane Broncos 24 hours later before St Helens meet South Sydney on Sunday to determine the right to be called world champions.

Murphy, who coached all three English clubs and was a player with St Helens and Warrington, believes the Super League trio can complete a 3-0 whitewash which would provide a major fillip for the game in this country.

“Expanding the competition is good for the game,” Murphy said. “We needed a change.

“If we want to take the game forward to match rugby union, we have to raise the profile and, if we do well in this series, it will do us the world of good.

“Unfortunately, one of the clubs (Brisbane) have brought only 18 players over. I hope they take it very seriously because (Wigan coach) Shaun Wane always wants to win.

“We’ve got to give them a wake-up call, we’ve got to say to Australia ‘you’re not as good as you thought you were’.

“They’re not the world champions any more, New Zealand are, and they’re under pressure. Their players are not being churned out as quickly as they used to be and the clubs are now grabbing whatever they can.

“This year can be a very important one for rugby league in this country. We have the chance to put a marker down.”

All three Super League clubs will go into the series undefeated after two rounds of the domestic competition and Murphy is particularly excited by the prospects of St Helens and Warrington.

“St Helens at the moment are playing as well as anyone,” he said. “They’ve got some very good players and they’re full of confidence.

“I think Tony Smith at Warrington realised they lacked a few players last year and he knows this year they’ve got to come up with the goods. With people like Daryl Clark, I think they will be there or thereabouts.”