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WCC won't be played in Australia: Wood

By Steve Mascord
1 November 2010 05:26PM EST

NEXT yearís World Club Challenge will be played at Wiganís DW Stadium on February 27 and not in Australia, Rugby Football League chief executive Nigel Wood has confirmed.

Wood told sportsnewsfirst.com.au plans for the game to again be played in England had been too well advanced when NRL premiers St George Illawarra suggested staging it in Sydney.

He added that because of the date clash with the Charity Shield, the Dragons were very unlikely to play a warm-up game in the UK.

It’s understood the joint venture side has pushed hard for better financial terms than previous NRL champions travelling to the UK for the fixture.

South Sydney are still considering playing someone else in next year’s Charity Shield on February 26 although the Dragons are trying to somehow salvage the fixture in its traditional format.

“There was a constructive and meaningful dialogue and we’ve discussed the matter with the NRL and also with the St George Illawarra club,” said Wood.

“Given the short notice that’s involved ... and in particular, one of the key issues is that the Super League season has started by the time this match takes place.

"To ask a team to interrupt its season and fly around the world, that’s a major disturbance.

“At the previous date, when we used to play the World Club Challenge at the end of January, you could contemplate that kind of thing. It’s not a practical option at this stage.”

Warmup games against the likes of Crusaders and Harlequins have become the norm in recent years but Wood said: “They are not required to play a warm-up game.

"Previously, with the warm-up game, we introduced that at the request of the Australian clubs to allow them some time to acclimatise.

“It’s fair to say that (in 2011), the chances of the warm-up game taking place are fairly remote given the obligations that St George have to the Charity Shield."

Also in the past, Bolton’s Reebok Stadium has hosted the WCC when Lancashire teams have qualified.

“There isn’t an issue with Wigan’s home paddock,” said Wood.

“The only reason we take it to neutral venues is because the previous clubs have never had a facility that’s got under soil heating and has got the requirements to stage what is an international-class fixture.

“But Wigan clearly have so we won’t be going to Bolton.”

Asked the Dragons’ financial demands, Wood said: “They, not unreasonably, want to make sure that all the costs associated with undertaking this trip are being met.”

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