Phil Clarke says close game in World Club Challenge is crucial
By Sky Sports News
Last Updated: 13/02/19 1:24pm
Phil Clarke believes a close contest between his two former teams is crucial for the future of the World Club Challenge.
Wigan take on Sydney Roosters on Sunday - live on Sky Sports - as they go in search of a fourth world title.
Not all NRL teams are as enthusiastic about the annual fixture, however, and the match only took place in 2018 because Leeds were prepared to make the trip to Melbourne.
"It needs the Super League sides to play at their very best to be competitive," said Clarke.
"We can't afford a 40 points to two result at the end of this. We need the game to be close and competitive to make sure the other NRL sides still buy into the concept."
The Roosters, who are currently in camp in Paris preparing for the match at the DW Stadium, are favourites with the bookmakers, but the Warriors took advantage of home advantage two years ago when they beat Cronulla Sharks.
Clarke, who was in the Wigan team that secured a famous victory in Brisbane 25 years ago, says the Super League champions may need to draw on the spirit of '94 to get past Trent Robinson's men.
"The Roosters are favourites, but if all 17 Wigan players have their best-ever game and they can all do it at the same time, then they have a chance," added Clarke, who appeared in three World Club Challenge matches and will be part of Sky Sports' coverage on Sunday.
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"That happened for Wigan in 1994. On paper, they shouldn't have been able to beat the Broncos in Brisbane. I think this is a similar situation."
Clarke began his career with Wigan, where his father also played, before joining the Roosters in 1995.
But after breaking his neck in the second match of the following season against the Cowboys in Townsville, he was forced to retire at the age of 24, despite making a full recovery.
"The club were so helpful to me and my family at what was a difficult time," he said.
"Even though things didn't work out for me on the pitch, in terms of the mentoring they gave me as a husband, as a father and as a businessman, it was fantastic, like going to Harvard Business School.
"I do feel I have a lot to thank Sydney Roosters for."