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Barcelona and bushfire relief: How WCC kickstarts Roosters title defence

The Roosters will again turn their World Club Challenge trip into a focal point of their premiership defence by combining a stint at Barcelona FC's world-class facilities with fundraising efforts close to the club's heart.

Trent Robinson plans to name a full-strength 17 for the February 22 clash with St Helens, prioritising the UK fixture over the Perth Nines a week earlier.

As with last year's trip to England via France, the Roosters see the venture as more than just a game against the Super League champions.

Their 2019 visit to Villers-Bretonneux and World War I battlefields – including a spine-tingling haka at a New Zealand war memorial – proved a significant touchstone in the Tricolours successful bid for back-to-back NRL titles.

Next month Robinson's side will travel to Liverpool via France and Spain, where they will be granted rare behind the scenes access to the operations of European football giants Barcelona and their $AU500 million Camp Nou facilities.

Roosters jersey to boost bushfire relief

The Roosters will be guests of Barcelona at their February 15 game against Getafe FC, following on from last year when Roosters staff visited several English Premier League outfits including back-to-back champions Manchester City.

"The way that we conducted the trip last year, it's a footy trip but it's also a life experience for the players as well," CEO Joe Kelly told

"There's the footy aspect of it and that's always going to be front and centre. But the learnings and things like the tour of the Somme last year, that balance, you see it transcend through the playing group.

"They really take something out of those other experiences, it ends up adding to their footy.

Roosters gift former AFL player a Nines berth

"We're putting together an itinerary at the moment but we had staff members in London last year, and coming from the Premier League myself having worked at Chelsea, we took three of our office staff into Chelsea, Spurs, into the Premier League itself.

"We went up to Manchester United and Manchester City when we got up to the north as well, just giving an opportunity for people right across the Roosters to meet their counterparts in those clubs, create contacts and see the way they operate as well."

In previous editions of the World Club Challenge, NRL premiers have bemoaned the physical toll and pre-season disruption.

Robinson concedes it can take the best part of 10 days for players to truly recover from the travel.

But the off-field aspects of the trip make it more than worthwhile in his eyes.

His squad will also visit former Rooster Mose Masoe, who is recovering from a career-ending spinal injury suffered playing for Hull KR.

Roosters captain Boyd Cordner.
Roosters captain Boyd Cordner. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Closer to home, the Roosters will also wear a one-off jersey featuring the NSW Rural Fire Service logo, again an initiative driven by Robinson.

Player-worn jerseys will be signed and auctioned off after the World Club Challenge, with all proceeds to be donated to the NSW RFS.

Roosters captain Boyd Cordner's home town of Old Bar came under threat from bushfires on NSW's mid-North Coast prior to Christmas, adding to his pride in launching the fundraising effort.

"It’s been devastating to see the destruction of the bushfires right around the country, and personally it has been tough to see the impact around Taree where I grew up," Cordner said.

"As players, we were very keen to look at how we could make a contribution to the important work of the NSW RFS, and we hope we can help make a difference through this initiative."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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