NRL Premiers Melbourne Storm will host English Super League Premiers Leeds Rhinos in the 2018 World Club Challenge to determine the world's best rugby league team.
The clash, to be held on Friday 16 February at AAMI Park at 8pm, will be only the third time the World Club Challenge has been played in Australia; with Brisbane and Sydney the other cities to have hosted the showcase event.
Melbourne Storm and Leeds Rhinos have already met in three World Club Challenge deciders; 2008, 2010 and 2013, with Storm victorious in 2010 and 2013 when the match was played at Headingley Carnegie Stadium.
This will mark the first time Leeds have played for the World Club Challenge outside the UK, looking to claim their fourth world title with their last coming in 2014 against Manly Warringah Sea Eagles. This will be Storm's fifth appearance on the world stage, having claimed victories in 2000, 2010 and 2013.
NRL Head of Strategy David Silverton was pleased for fans that the event was finally locked in to the rugby league calendar.
"It's important for the growth of both the NRL and international game that major events like this go ahead each year, so we're glad to have ensured this important match takes place in what is a shortened pre-season post the Rugby League World Cup," Mr Silverton said.
"To have the match take place on home soil for the first time in four years is an added bonus for Australian rugby league fans too.
"A special thank you must go to all those involved from the Super League, Melbourne Storm, Leeds Rhinos and Channel Nine for joining forces and committing to make this showpiece event happen."
In making today's announcement at AAMI Park, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Major Events, John Eren said the match would provide a great opportunity for interstate and international visitors to experience some of what Melbourne has to offer in one weekend.
"The World Club Challenge is right at home in the sporting capital. We can't wait to get behind our Storm and help make them the world's best rugby league team.
"It's yet another coup for the sports capital that will bring more visitors to Victoria – boosting businesses and supporting local jobs."
Melbourne Storm CEO Dave Donaghy said the Club was thrilled to be hosting the World Club Challenge on home soil.
"There's no better venue or city to host a game that decides the world's best rugby league team than AAMI Park and Melbourne – Australia's sporting capital.
"It will be fantastic to see rugby league take centre stage again at AAMI Park, having hosted record Storm crowds and the Rugby League World Cup in 2017.
"I know our Storm members and fans as well as the sports enthusiast will come out to support their Premiership winning team and to see some of the world's best players take the field.
"Our football department is looking forward to the challenge of being back playing for the World Club Challenge trophy and testing themselves again the current Super League Premiers."
It was also announced this morning the match will be broadcast live on Nine in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, and simulcast nationally on Fox Sports.
Nine's Director of Sport, Tom Malone, said; "We're really excited about this match – the two best rugby league teams in the world squaring up against each other for the title of champions. Wide World of Sports will be the best place to catch all the action – live and free and in HD."
Tickets are on-sale to Storm and Leeds members today at ticketek.com.au with public on-sale to follow at 10am Tuesday 21 November.
World Club Challenge
Friday 16 February 2018
Melbourne Storm v Leeds Rhinos
8pm, AAMI Park