Wigan Warriors vs Penrith Panthers Predictions: NRL champs to win first World Club title

 | February 23 | 

3 mins read

George Riley Rugby League

The Betfred Super League champion Wigan Warriors host NRL kings Penrith Panthers at a sold-out DW Stadium on Saturday for the right to be crowned the best club side in the world (kick Off 20:00 GMT).

Wigan opened their domestic title defence with a comfortable 32-4 victory at Castleford Tigers with winger Liam Marshall helping himself to two tries, and a win here over the best side in Australia would be a huge statement of intent at the start of the 2024 campaign.

Penrith arrive with a team full of superstars but wounded by their defeat in this fixture against St Helens 12 months ago, while Wigan know that if they can record a famous win the club will draw level with Sydney Roosters for most World Club Challenge titles.

Wigan Warriors v Penrith Panthers Tips

  • Penrith Panthers to win by 1-12 points @ 13/8
  • Nathan Cleary anytime tryscorer @ 4/1

Team news

Wigan received a huge boost this week when key playmaker Harry Smith was declared available following the Super League disciplinary meeting. The England international has escaped a ban for a dangerous tip tackle in the opening win over Castleford. Hooker Kruise Leeming will also play despite picking up an ankle injury in a try-scoring display last week. Coach Matt Peet says Leeming is sore but ready to play.

So other than England prop Luke Thompson, who failed his head injury assessment against the Tigers, Wigan are able to name an unchanged squad, with youngster Harvie Hill set to take Thompson’s place in the 17. New signing Sam Walters from Leeds Rhinos is still sidelined so Hill gets his chance.

Penrith are without their star man Jarome Luai, with the Samoa international not yet ready after his shoulder injury, and 20-year old Jack Cole is therefore set to partner the great Nathan Cleary in the halves. Cole has only ever played once in the NRL but gets his chance after an impressive pre-season.

Penrith Panthers 1-12 points @ 13/8

Penrith may be without their star man but they have arrived with seven days to build up to this and have been training at Manchester City’s plush facilities this week. There is a frightening amount of talent in this Panthers side who were stung by their defeat to Saints in last year’s fixture.

Indeed, they are yet to win a World Club Challenge in their three attempts in 1991, 2004 and 2023, but despite going up against the in-form Super League champions in their own backyard I fancy them to nick it. Wigan beat Penrith 21-4 when the two teams met in that 1991 game, but this one is likely to be different and if Brian To'o, Cleary, James Fisher-Harris and skipper Isaah Yeo bring their A games then the fans are in for a treat.

Penrith Panthers to win World Club Challenge by 1-12 @ 13/8

Nathan Cleary anytime tryscorer @ 4/1

One of the iconic names in world rugby league, the State of Origin star produced one of the greatest performances in Grand Final history to inspire the Panthers to victory last season. With Penrith trailing by 16 points with 20 minutes to go, the Australia international created two tries out of nothing before scoring the winner himself. Just as in this fixture, Luai was off the field at the time, allowing Clearly to take charge, and another dominant performance here is likely to see him in the thick of the action.

Nathan Cleary anytime tryscorer v Wigan @ 4/1

You can read all our latest Rugby League News and Tips at our dedicated Betfred Insights rugby league content hub.

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