Smith set for World Club Challenge
Leeds Rhinos are furious but Melbourne Storm veteran Ryan Hoffman isn’t too concerned about playing under two referees in Friday night’s World Club Challenge.
The NRL told the RFL of the decision last week and worked in consultation together to make the ruling.
Rhinos coach Brian McDermott expressed his frustrations to media on Thursday but Hoffman doesn’t think having two referees would be a big issue.
“We were surprised too,” he said of the referee change.
“We were expecting only one referee as per the international rules, but that was completely out of our control. To be honest, it won’t really matter to us whether we had one or two. It’s what we do with the ball. The idea is to not have the referees involved in the game too much.”
Hoffman knows the Super League game style well after a year with Wigan and will play his fifth WCC game.
The experienced back-rower, who is in line to break the 350-game mark this year, is looking forward to playing a WCC game in the Australian summer rather than a cold English winter.
“Over the years in the other World Club Challenge games I’ve played, I’ve always thought, ‘Gee, we’d love to play them on a dry track in summer in Australia’. We’ve got that opportunity, it's up to us (to perform).”
Hoffman is returning to Storm colours for the first time after a three-year stint with the New Zealand Warriors, where he captained the club. He's humbled to be back.
“The only changes I’ve noticed is the personnel and staff. It’s funny, it doesn't feel like I’ve been away for three years, so I suppose that shows what this club is all about - keeping the values that have held this team in good stead for the past 16 years.”
There won’t be any special treatment by coach Craig Bellamy either despite his decorated career that has included State of Origin and Australia honours.
“After 16 years and being 34 years of age, you sort of know what is required,” he said.
“Without being told, I imagine it is to do my job and do it well. I need to make sure my form is good, week in and week out.”