World Club Challenge: Wigan Warriors' Ethan Havard on 'huge opportunity to change history' for club | Rugby League News

Betfred Super League winners Wigan Warriors take on Penrith Panthers, NRL champions for each of the past three seasons, at DW Stadium on Saturday night; watch the 2024 World Club Challenge live on Sky Sports Arena from 7.30pm (8pm kick-off)

The author: Marc Bazeley, @MarcBazeley

12:41 UK Tuesday 20 February 2024

A history of success brings great expectations. Some clubs are burdened by the achievements of the past, while others embrace it and continue to write their own chapters with new deeds of glory.

Wigan Warriors are a club that have fallen at times on either side since the start of the Super League era, although they have thrived in the latter in recent seasons with Betfred Challenge Cup success in 2022 followed by a maiden Grand Final triumph. five years last October.

That 10-2 win over Catalans Dragons at Old Trafford – Wigan's sixth Super League title and 23rd top-flight title overall – set up this Saturday's World Club Challenge clash with Penrith Panthers and Warriors prop Ethan Havard is no doubt a win over the Australian champions would also mean .

Live World Club Challenge

Saturday, February 24 at 7:30 p.m

“Hopefully this is the start of something that could be good for us,” Havard said Sky Sports. “The World Club Challenge is a huge opportunity to change the club's history.

“To add another star to our badge would be amazing, but it takes a lot of hard work to get to these games, so it starts with that.

“Lifting [Super League] the trophy is something we have been working on for several years. Of course, being champions is a good feeling.

“It was a momentous occasion and it was great to be a part of it.”

A look back at Wigan Warriors' journey to their first Super League title since 2018

Unfortunately for Havard, he will be a spectator as he continues to recover from the hamstring injury he suffered in the grand final and will be joined on the sidelines by fellow England international Luke Thompson after the forward failed his Super League head injury assessment. opening win over Castleford Tigers last Saturday.

While Havard is frustrated at missing the opening weeks of the 2024 campaign, he has no regrets about risking aggravating the injury by playing in last year's title decider, even though he could only make a 10-minute cameo off the bench at the end.

“We knew it was a risk that I would play in the final, but you don't get many opportunities like that,” Havard said.

“I did everything I could to get back into this game and I don't regret it. Now I just have to take care of my body, do what's right for me and then get back in shape and play this year. “

The World Club Challenge is a huge opportunity to change the club's history. Adding another star to our badge would be awesome, but it takes a lot of hard work to get into these games, so it starts with that.

Ethan Havard of Wigan Warriors

“I took my time with it this time just to get it right but the testing is going well and I'm looking to keep going. I can see the end and I'm looking forward to being back in the mix with the boys.” “

Born in Bulgaria to English parents, Havard is one of a group of players who have come through the Warriors' renowned academy system in recent years and become an important part of Matt Peet's squad.

The former Wigan St Patricks junior was also a regular at the DW Stadium in his youth, so he knows how much of the work the club does in the community has contributed to the sell-out crowd set to descend on this weekend. a clash with the team that has won the NRL in each of the last three seasons.

At 23, Havard is still far from one of the pupils inspired by visiting Warriors players, and he enjoys being one of those who meet the townspeople every week.

St Helens beat Penrith Panthers to win the 2023 World Club Challenge in dramatic fashion with a golden point!

“It's pretty cool,” Havard said. “I remember the older boys coming when I was at school and I always looked forward to it and remembered it.

“I was one of those watching the first team every week in the South Stand and now it's quite special.

“We do it every week, every Friday, we go to schools and different parts of the community and making those bonds with people is pretty special.

“They're the people who come to watch us, they're the ones who go through the turnstiles and it's good that the young kids are interested and can become Wigan's next warriors.”

Stunning try from Nathan Cleary inspires Penrith Panthers to 2023 NRL Grand Final glory

If Wigan can beat Penrith, it will be the fifth time they have been crowned club world champions, including beating the Panthers at Anfield in 1991 and last winning the title seven years ago when they beat the Cronulla Sharks.

It would match what old rivals St Helens did last year when they went down to Australia and beat the Panthers 11-10 with a golden point goal, although like any good forward, Havard knows he will have to scrap everything. allowing the likes of reigning Man of Steel Bevan French and Jai Field to showcase their groundbreaking skills on the big stage.

“Matty said whatever beats Cas beats Penrith,” Havard said. “It's built on effort, desire and that's the type of thing that wins big games.

“It's not necessarily fancy games or too much form, it's just supporting your mate and being protective.

“That's all you get [moment of magic] on the back of putting in the energy and effort to create the kind of openings that the players can take advantage of.”

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Watch the World Club Challenge between Betfred Super League champions Wigan Warriors and NRL kings Penrith Panthers at DW Stadium live on Sky Sports Arena from 7.30pm on Saturday 24 February (kick-off 8pm). Also stream Super League without a contract with NOW.

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