No team has won more matches in the World Club Series than Wigan and the Warriors are 49/20 to claim the record outright by beating Cronulla Sharks on Sunday.
Wigan are one of four teams to have enjoyed a hat-trick of victories in the annual clash of the Super League and NRL champions, along with Bradford, Leeds and Melbourne. They have a proud record in the competition but head into the weekend’s clash as the underdogs following the domination of the Australian teams in recent years.
Wigan went close to a fourth win in 2011 when they were 15-14 ahead against St George Illawarra before going down 21-15 and head coach Shaun Wane admitted Sunday’s match was a distraction after beating Salford last weekend.
“It was hard to concentrate on this game when we’ve got the World Club Challenge next week,” he said. “That means a lot to our town and I’ll be getting some players in from 30 years ago to talk to them.”
Wigan welcome back John Bateman from a back injury and he is relishing the chance to play in such a big occasion.
He said: “It's one of the biggest games of the season, to be crowned the best team in the world, that's what you play for, isn't it?”
Cronulla ended a 43-year wait for the NRL title when they beat Melbourne in the 2016 NRL Grand Final and, although they have lost several key members of that team including full-back Ben Barba and hooker Michael Ennis, Bateman is expecting them to be tough opponents.
“I watched a bit of NRL last year and we've seen a few clips,” he said. “They've got some decent players but so have we at the end of the day. They have a few players missing from last year but you can't underestimate them. They will be good.”
Cronulla are 9/25 for the win while Wigan (43/50) have a 10-point start on the handicap, with the Australians evens to win by 11 or more.