South Sydney admit they will have to overcome the fear of the unknown if they are to be crowned world champions on Monday morning.
For the first time ever, the Rabbitohs will contest a World Club Challenge when they face St Helens at Langtree Park, the final match in a World Club Series format which has also included St George Illawarra and Brisbane.
And while prop Thomas Burgess is the only player to have set foot on St Helens’s home ground, South Sydney’s newly-installed captain Greg Inglis accepts there are also unknown elements in the opposition lineup.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys who probably don’t even watch Super League,” the champion fullback admitted.
“But we’ve got to keep working hard and doing our homework on them.”
Inglis said the Saints’ crafty hooker James Roby was one player who would require special attention from the Rabbitohs’ defensive line, with the club well aware of his dangerous runs from dummy half.
“I think James Roby is one of the key players for them,” he said.
“If he can get their forwards going forward, they’re going to be hard to top.”
The St Helens lineup has a sprinkling of former NRL talent, including giant former Roosters and Penrith prop Mose Masoe, new signing Atelea Vea and journeyman playmaker Travis Burns.
But their local players were snubbed by international selectors last year.
“It just goes to show you don’t have to be in rep sides to win a comp,” Inglis said.
“Every man who takes that field is a danger. And the brand of footy, because they play so well together, just makes it even more dangerous.
“We know we’ve got a challenge ahead of us.”
Coach Michael Maguire was in charge of Wigan when they lost the 2011 World Club Challenge to St George Illawarra.
He says becoming South Sydney’s very first world club champions would give this playing group a special piece of the club’s proud history.
“We’ve got a very historic club and to be a part of Souths is very special, and to coach is a very special thing to as well,” Maguire said.
“But to be the first team that’s been across here in the World Club Challenge would be something else.
“I see the World Club Challenge as a great honour and the trophy there that’s available is a big one that we want in our cabinet.
“For us, we’re looking forward to ripping in on Sunday.”
A World Club Challenge title would leave the Rabbitohs’ trophy cabinet at bursting point – as well as winning last year’s NRL premiership, the club also holds the Charity Shield and last month won the Auckland Nines.
“Yeah we’ve won some trophies recently, but you put a lot of hours of hard work to get the opportunities we’ve got,” Maguire explains.
“We make sure we’re continually improving in what we’re doing.”