LEEDS, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 22: Joel Moon of Leeds Rhinos tackles Billy Slater of Melbourne Storm during the World Club Challenge match between Leeds Rhinos and Melbourne Storm at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on February 22, 2013 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)

Traditionally, the annual World Club Challenge is hosted by England.

However, the NRL and Super League have struck a new deal that will see the highly-anticipated fixture between the Melbourne Storm and Leeds Rhinos to be played at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

Fairfax Media has revealed that the fixture will take place on the 16th of February, ending speculation suggesting that the fixture won’t be played at all.

The agreement comes after Craig Bellamy opted for a less disrupted pre-season, which has already been interrupted with thirteen players absent due to World Cup commitments.

Leeds Chief Executive expressed his mixed emotions regarding the relocation:

“We had lined up Elland Road to host the game next year because Headingley is undergoing redevelopment work,” he said.

“It’s disappointing that can’t happen but we now see this as the ultimate challenge.”

“The World Club Challenge has been played every year since 2000 and Leeds and Melbourne have been more involved than anyone,” said Hetherington.

“It would be a shame if there was no fixture next year.”

Melbourne Storm and Leeds Rhinos met in the 2008, 2010 and 2013 World Club Challenges. Wigan won the World Club Challenge four times, in 1987, 1991, 1994 and 2017.

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