2021 NRL Grand Final - Panthers v Rabbitohs
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 03: Nathan Cleary of the Panthers celebrates with Matt Burton of the Panthers after he scored a try during the 2021 NRL Grand Final match between the Penrith Panthers and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Suncorp Stadium on October 03, 2021, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The Penrith Panthers will not be making the trip to England to face Super League side St Helens in the World Club Challenge if CEO Brian Fletcher is to be believed.

The one-off match played between the premiers of the NRL and Super League hasn't been able to occur in recent times due to obvious circumstances, however with the world finally starting to open up again the match could possibly take place in 2022.

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St Helens emerged victorious at Old Trafford in mid-October against French side Catalan Dragons to win their second Super League title on the trot in spectacular circumstances.

On the other side of the world, Penrith pulled off an incredible victory in the NRL Grand Final, beating cross-town rivals South Sydney 14-12 in Brisbane to win their third premiership.

These two teams would be the duo that would battle it out for the World Club Challenge title should it take place, with St Helens having won it on two occasions.

2021s edition of the showdown fell victim to the pandemic as well, with the Storm and St Helens unable to do battle.

However, speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, Fletcher maintained that there were no plans still to play the match and, if it were to be held, Penrith would only play if it took place in Australia.

“We haven’t heard anything about the game nor discussed it with anybody, but to be fair you wouldn’t be going over there anyway at the moment because of the COVID risk,” Fletcher said.

“If St Helens want to come out here and play us, it would be great. We’d pack the stadium out, for sure. Australia’s vaccination rate would also be more than 95 per cent by that stage."

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The UK's vaccination rate according to the BBC is relatively high, with 80% of those over the age of 12 fully vaccinated.

Despite case numbers rising, hospitalisations and deaths are remaining steady with Britain being one of the leading nations when it comes to living with COVID.

With New South Wales and more broadly Australia on track to becoming one of the most vaccinated jurisdictions in the world, the risk of COVID marring a possible World Club Challenge match in Sydney would be relatively low compared to the UK.

NRL clubs that do make the journey to England usually are accommodated for by their Super League opponents, with the trip according to the Telegraph costing up to $500,000.

The last time that a Super League side ventured Downunder was in 2018 when Leeds Rhinos visited AAMI Park only to be thrashed by Melbourne 38-4.

There is no question that Fletcher's prediction about packing out BlueBet Stadium would come to fruition, with the capacity of 22,500 meaning that tickets would likely sell out.

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However, with no plans for the NRL to accommodate the match in the near future, a World Club Challenge game in 2022 may just be a pipe dream for now.